HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - AAA Hawaii is offering its free Tipsy Tow service during the New Year's holiday. The service is available from 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, until 6 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1. Tipsy Tow is available in the areas served by AAA Hawaii.
Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-222-4357 for a free tow home of up to five miles. Callers simply tell the AAA operators, "I need a Tipsy Tow," to receive the free tow and ride home. A regular AAA Hawaii-contracted roadside assistance service truck will be dispatched. Tipsy Tow is unique in that it provides a driver with a safe ride home for themselves and their vehicle instead of driving while intoxicated.
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 five miles.
"We want motorists to be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with the holiday and encourage them to think twice about getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking," said AAA Hawaii's General Manager Liane Sumida.
In 2012, crashes involving drunken drivers claimed 10,322 lives, compared with 9,865 in 2011, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration findings show.
New Year's Eve is a traditional time for home parties, as well as outings to restaurants and bars, and other excursions. These activities contribute to a relaxed atmosphere and more drinking, according to Sumida.
"It takes only one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking, judgment and reaction time," Sumida said. "Drivers should be aware that the law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during the holiday."
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 AAA Hawaii.
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. AAA Hawaii estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost about $15,649 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and insurance costs.
AAA Hawaii advises that motorists can keep themselves and others safe and can avoid DUI arrests by keeping these safety tips in mind:
• Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins.
• At social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
• Never serve alcohol to those under age 21.
• Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who was drinking alcohol – even after one drink.
• Call a friend or family member for a ride home if you've been drinking.
• Keep a cab company telephone number in your cell phone and wallet so you can call for a ride home.
• As a party host, offer non-alcoholic drink alternatives and provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers; provide overnight accommodations to guests who've been drinking.
• 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.