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Free rides home for New Year’s revelers
AAA of Northern California and the Capitola Police Department are offering New Year's revelers who are too tipsy to drive rides home. As little as one drink can impair vision, steering, braking, judgment and reaction time. On New Year's Eve in 2009, 11 people were killed in alcohol-related car crashes in California, AAA reported citing CHP data. That's three times the daily average for the state. That same year, 163 people were injured in collisions that involved alcohol and 488 others were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. In 2010, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes nationwide, reported AAA citing statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is one death every 51 minutes. In 2008, alcohol-related crashes accounted for about 36 percent of highway deaths for young people ages 16-24, according to the traffic safety agency. In an attempt to make ensure Santa Cruz residents, as well as those statewide, stay alive as they bring in 2014, AAA's Tipsy Tow service is available for members and non-members alike from 6 p.m. New Year's Eve to 6 a.m. New Year's Day. “Everybody wants to have fun at a New Year’s party,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA spokesperson. “But if you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel." Simply call AAA-HELP or (800) 222-4357 and say, "I need a Tipsy Tow," to take advantage of the service that offers drivers and their automobile a ride home. The driver's passengers also may hitch a ride to the driver's home as long as there is room in the tow truck's cab. Reservations are not available. In Capitola, rides will be provided between Santa Cruz and Aptos 9 p.m. New Year's Eve to 3 a.m. New Year's Day. Call 475-4244 to take advantage of that service. In California, AAA estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost up to $12,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and added insurance expenses. But what's the cost of injuring or killing someone during a preventable act? Don't try to find out. Keep it safe. If you plan to drink, don't drive.