AAA Texas urges those who celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends to designate a sober driver and reminds motorists about its free Tipsy Tow program during the holiday. The community service that aims to keep drinking drivers off the road is available 30 hours, from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3 through midnight Thursday, July 4.
Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-222-4357 or 1-800-AAA-HELP for a free tow home of up to 10 miles. Callers simply tell AAA Texas operators, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular AAA Texas-contracted roadside service truck will be dispatched. Drivers can expect to pay the rate charged by the tow truck contractor for rides farther than 10 miles. The passenger and tow truck driver should agree in advance what the excess mileage charges will be and the method of payment, prior to providing the tow.
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.
Many motorists who have had too much to drink have said reasons they don’t use alternate transportation is because of cab costs or inconvenience of having to retrieve their car the next day. AAA Texas’ free Tipsy Tow service is unique in that it transports both the driver and their vehicle. You do not have to be an AAA member to use this free service.
AAA Texas supports the Texas Department of Transportation’s Faces of Drunk Driving safety campaign (www.FacesofDrunkDriving.com ), which uses the faces of drunk driving victims to urge motorists to be smart and drive sober. According to TxDOT, like all holidays, Independence Day ranks among the deadliest times on our roadways, and last year there were 133 alcohol-related crashes in Texas. Throughout July, TxDOT will host Faces of Drunk Driving events across the state where safety advocates, law enforcement and victims of DWI will share their stories in front of 1,170 Texas flags, representing the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes in Texas last year. Another 9,400 more people were seriously injured in alcohol-related crashes in 2012.
“Far too often, we hear about people being killed or permanently injured as a result of drunk or buzzed driving and it is entirely preventable,” said Linda von Quintus, AAA Vice President of Government & Community Affairs. “If you plan to drink, make plans not to drive. As a last resort, AAA Texas is pleased to offer Tipsy Tow to make sure intoxicated people don’t get behind the wheel and don’t hurt themselves or others - but get home safely instead.”
People convicted of driving under the influence could lose their family, job, money and dignity. According to TxDOT and law enforcement agencies it could cost a person between $13,000 to $24,000 in fines, legal fees, higher insurance rates, lost wages, substance abuse programs or court required alcohol treatment if convicted of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
AAA Texas reminds people of these tips to keep themselves and others safe and avoid DUI arrests:
• 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.
• 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 so you can call for a ride home.
• As a party host and good friend or loving family member, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drink alternatives, serve food as well as dessert and coffee and provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers.
• Have a back up plan to spend the night at the party instead of driving home under the influence.
• Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.
• 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, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs also can impair your ability to drive safely.