(LOS ANGELES, December 27, 2005) — The Automobile Club of Southern California is offering its free Tipsy Tow service to drinking drivers during the New Year's holiday weekend. The service is available from 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, through the end of the day on Sunday, Jan. 1. Tipsy Tow is available in the 13 Southern California counties served by the Auto Club.
Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-400-4AAA for a free tow home of up to seven miles. Callers simply tell the Auto Club operators, "I need a Tipsy Tow," to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular Auto Club-contracted emergency road service truck will be dispatched.
Callers need to keep in mind that the service excludes rides for passengers, is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver and the destination is limited to the driver's residence. Reservations are not accepted. Drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow truck contractor for rides farther than seven miles.
"We want motorists to be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and encourage them to think twice about getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking," Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp said.
New Year's Eve is a traditional time for parties and revelry, activities that contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere. With New Year's Eve falling on a Saturday, there are more opportunities for more drinking, according to Thorp.
"It takes only one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking, judgement and reaction time," Thorp said. "We hope drivers are aware that the CHP and law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during holidays."
While the number of Californians arrested for driving under the influence in 2003 (the latest year available) is far lower than it was 24 years ago, it is still disturbingly high — 179,000, according to Thorp. Statewide annual alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes have also decreased sharply, from 49,000 in 1981 to nearly 22,000 in 2003 "We'd like to see these numbers reduced even further, particularly the high numbers during the holidays," added Thorp.
Drinking drivers frequently don't plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle. They cite the expense of taxis and time inconvenience as the major reasons they don't use alternative transportation, according to the Auto Club. Tipsy Tow provides motorists with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicles instead of driving while intoxicated.
People convicted of driving under the influence could lose many of the most important things in their lives, such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost about $11,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and insurance costs.
Current laws, enforcement, public awareness and education efforts by public service-oriented organizations, including the Auto Club, have contributed to the decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities and injuries for the past 10 years. The Auto Club provides the Tipsy Tow service and free publications as part of its "You Drink. You Drive. You Lose." public awareness campaign.
The Auto Club advises that motorists can keep themselves and others safe and can avoid DUI arrests by keeping these safety tips in mind:
- At social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
- Call a friend of family member for a ride if you have been drinking.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- As a party host, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drink alternatives and provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers.
- Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa-calif.com.