To help remove drinking drivers from the road, AAA Hawaii is offering its Tipsy Tow service during New Year’s Eve. 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.
AAA Hawaii encourages party-goers to plan ahead for a sober ride or use a designated driver if attending a gathering. But if those plans fall through, 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 the option of 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 beyond 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.
Impaired driving continues to present a significant problem in Hawaii and poses a danger to public safety, according to the latest Hawaii data. Of the state’s 120 traffic fatalities in 2016, 34 of them (28 percent) were alcohol-impaired crashes. There were nearly 6,000 alcohol and/or drug arrests in four counties in Hawaii in 2017, according to the state’s Highway Safety Report.
Nationwide, in 2017, crashes claimed 37,133 lives, of which 10,874 (29 percent) died in crashes involving drunk drivers. An average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“It takes only one drink 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 using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during the holiday.”
Today, more options are available including designated sober drivers, public transit and ride-hailing services.
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 approximately $15,688 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and insurance costs.
AAA Hawaii offers tips to help stay safe and avoid DUI arrests this New Year’s Eve:
- 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. It’s illegal and dangerous.
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who was drinking alcohol or using drugs.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride home if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.
- Keep a cab company or ride-sharing app in your cell phone and wallet so you can call for a ride home.
- As a party host, offer non-alcoholic drinks 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 been drinking.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 9-1-1 (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 and can often sharply increase the impairing effects of alcohol.
Although Tipsy Tow is offered by AAA Hawaii, it is not a nationwide program. Check with your local AAA club for availability. Visit PreventDUI.AAA.com for impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice. AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.