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Free rides home on New Year's Eve

A drunken-driving bust can be very costly. Fortunately, many services offer a free ride when it's time for you to go home.

By Karen Datko Dec 30, 2011 7:35PM

A gentle reminder before you head out on New Year's Eve: The typical cost of a drunken-driving conviction is $10,000, including a big hit to your car insurance premiums. Consider yourself lucky if they merely double.

 

With that in mind, let's take a look at ways to get home -- some free and some not -- if you're over the legal blood-alcohol limit for firing up your chariot. The limit is 0.08% in all 50 states, and it doesn't take much to get there.

 

The free stuff first: Some AAA clubs provide free New Year's rides home for members and nonmembers. The program is called Tipsy Tow or Tow-to-Go. Here's the list of locations where it's available. Post continues below.

Before you party, call the sponsoring club first to find out what's being offered, just in case you get to the point where you shouldn't drive. Some will tow a car and give a ride to the driver only (no passengers), and there are mileage restrictions. After so many miles of free towing, you could end up paying the regular tow rate.

 

Check locally for other free programs. For instance:

  • Yellow Cab in Topeka, Kan., is providing free rides home on New Year's Eve thanks to a generous contribution by a law firm, The Topeka Capital-Journal says.
  • A similar program is available in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties in New York, according to Albany's Times Union newspaper.
  • In Houston, Metro is offering free rides on its rail and bus system.
  • You can find many others here.

Not going home will cost you

Another AAA site, AAA DUI Justice Link, has a list of services that provide sober drivers and sometimes vehicles, often for a fee. Some examples:

  • Wisconsin has 30 towns on the list served by an outfit called Road Crew -- "a full night of bar hopping for the low cost of $20," its websites say. A one-way ride home from the bar is a mere $5.
  • Pennsylvania has six listings, including two (in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) for Safe Ride Solutions, which provides off-duty or recently retired police officers to drive you in your own car. Membership is $100 a year, then $50 an hour with a four-hour minimum. Confidentiality is ensured. "SRS did start out as a driving service for pro-athletes in 2006 and we have helped many ball players avoid problems," the website says. (I can think of a few who should have availed themselves of this service.)

Other services on the list don't charge a fee to the impaired. For instance, Designated Driver of Colorado Springs, Colo., will drive you home in your own car if you're at a sponsoring establishment. You're encouraged to tip the driver, though. (For this New Year's, that service is available only for Fort Carson personnel.)

 

Other alternatives for a law-abiding night:

  • Take a cab. That works too, but the beauty of many of the other services is that they drive you home in your own car, so you don't need to worry about finding and retrieving it the next day.
  • Have a designated driver. Surely you know someone who doesn't drink. Offer to pay for their dinner or ticket to the ball, plus all the nonalcoholic beverages they consume.
  • Stay home. What's that old saying about New Year's Eve being amateur night? Home may be the safest place.

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