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AAA to offer tipsy tow service

6/29/2011, 12:23 p.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--For the 15th year in a row, the Automobile Club of Southern California will offer free towing during the Fourth of July weekend in an attempt to keep drunken drivers off the road.

The Tipsy Tow program will be available to intoxicated drivers from 6 p.m. Saturday until 11:59 p.m. Monday 13 counties served by the Auto Club.

Motorists, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver can call (800) 400-4AAA for a free tow to the driver's residence of up to seven miles away.

Callers should tell operators they want a Tipsy Tow, and a tow truck under contract to the Auto Club will be dispatched.

The service does not include rides for passengers and is restricted to a one-way, one-time ride for the driver. For distances longer than seven miles, drivers will be expected to pay the normal rate charged by the tow truck operator.

"Drivers should be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with holidays and we encourage them not to get behind the wheel if they've been drinking," according to Auto Club senior researcher Steve Bloch.

A first-time drunken driving conviction can cost $12,176 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs, according to the Auto Club.

The Auto Club suggested:
* designating a non-drinking driver who can get everyone home safely;
* calling a friend or family member for a ride home if you have been drinking;
* keeping a taxi company number in your 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; and
* take keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.