AAA offers free Halloween night ride home for revellers and their automobiles

If you’re planning to drink alcoholic beverages Halloween night, AAA of Northern California is offering an alternative to driving. While ghosts and goblins will be on the prowl, the organization’s yellow tow trucks will shuttle drunken drivers and their vehicles home – free of charge. “Everybody wants to enjoy their costume parties this Halloween weekend,” said Matt Skryja, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “But if you’ve been drinking, don’t be a joker and get behind the wheel. Instead, be a super hero and give AAA a call. We’ll make sure you get home safely.” Last Halloween, 647 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence, according to the state’s justice department. Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol reported 171 alcohol-related car crashes that resulted in 95 injuries and six deaths. With Halloween on a weekend this year, those numbers could easily rise as more party-goers choose to drink and drive, rather than assign a designated driver or call a taxi. AAA’s free “Tipsy Tow” rides will be offered between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday throughout Northern California. Drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders, and restaurant managers can request a Tipsy Tow by calling 800-AAA-HELP, or 800-222-4357. The service is good for a trip home of up to five miles. Cost of DUI While each case is handled on a case-by-case basis, on average, someone convicted of a DUI in Santa Cruz County should expect to pay a fine of about $2,000, a restitution fine of about $100 and spend three to five days in jail, according to the District Attorney's office. Convicted DUI drivers also will be required to pay for and attend a three month DUI program. Failure to complete these classes will result in the loss of license, a violation of probation and a trip back to jail. A six month program is typically assigned to DUI drivers with a blood alcohol level of .15-percent or more or to those who refuse to blow into an alcohol detecting device. DUI drivers also will lose their license to drive for 90 days for adults age 21 and up, for whom the legal limit is .08-percent. The penalty is one year for people under 21, where the legal blood-alcohol limit is zero. There is one disclaimer that goes along with that, though. While a court may say the convicted DUI driver’s privileges have been revoked for 90 days, it is up to the DMV to reissue the license. So, on day 91, convicted DUI drivers cannot simply jump in a car and start driving again. Rather, they must go to the DMV with proof of insurance to try to get their license back. If the driver has prior problems with the DMV, the agency may not allow him or her to drive for a year. Speaking of car insurance, some insurance companies drop their customers if they’re convicted of a DUI. Others will gladly insure them but for higher rates that could last about five years. One more thing, DUI convictions stay on the driving record for 10 years.
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