The Automobile Club of Southern California reminds everyone who plans to celebrate the Fourth of July to avoid drinking and driving and other forms of impaired driving by designating a sober driver or using an alternate mode of transportation. In addition, the Auto Club’s free community service, Tipsy Tow, will be available as a last resort during the holiday. For the 23rd year, the service will be available from 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 4 through 6 a.m. Friday, July 5, to keep impaired drivers off the road. Tipsy Tow is available in the 13 Southern California counties served by the Auto Club but it is not offered by all AAA clubs nationwide.
Drivers, 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 Auto Club operators, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular Auto Club-contracted roadside service truck will be dispatched.
Tipsy Tow 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. For rides farther than seven miles, drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow truck contractor.
“Alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications impact a driver’s ability to safely navigate the roads and increase their chances of a crash,” said the Auto Club’s Community Programs and Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana. “We want this Independence Day to be remembered for fireworks, food and fun, and not for a preventable tragedy, which is why we offer Tipsy Tow to drivers who have no other way of getting home safely.”
California law enforcement officials arrest large numbers of DUI offenders every year. In 2017, over the July 4 holiday maximum enforcement period, an estimated 1,244 drivers were arrested for the offense and 47 were killed.
Nationally, in 2017, over the July 4 holiday (6 p.m. June 30 to 5:59 a.m. July 5), 601 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Thirty-nine percent (237) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired crashes, a 23 percent increase from 2016 (192 fatalities), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Auto Club estimates that a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction in California can cost approximately $22,000 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. California has legalized recreational marijuana,but driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal. In fact, this offense is treated the same as alcohol-impaired driving and comes with the same severe penalties.
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 during the past 23 years. More information can be found at www.AAA.com/DUIeducation
The Auto Club offers these additional tips to avoid DUI arrests and tragedies this Independence Day:
- Before and at social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
- Do not serve alcohol to anyone under age 21.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride home if you’ve been drinking or using impairing drugs.
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet or cell phone so you can call for a ride home. There are also apps available to secure a ride home.
- As a party host, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drinks and food, and consider allowing guests who drink alcohol to stay overnight. Take car keys away from friends and relatives who have been drinking or using impairing drugs.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to a safe location to make the call yourself).
- Remember: prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs also can impair your ability to drive safely.