Local organizations and businesses are encouraging people not to drink and drive this holiday weekend.
However, if you do drink, there are free options to help you get home safely.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is also teaming with ride-sharing company Uber Technologies to offer free rides (up to $20) to first time Uber users who key in the code MADDHI.
This code will generate $5 per ride to MADD Hawaii courtesy of Uber and has no expiration date.
The mission hits close to home for one Hawaii woman who lost her son six years ago to a drunk driver.
“The loss of my son is probably the most devastating, heart-breaking thing any family can ever experience,” said Karlotta Carvalho. “Drunk driving is a 100-percent preventable crime if we can just plan in advance.”
Meanwhile AAA Hawaii’s free community service, Tipsy Tow will be available as a last resort during the Fourth of July holiday. The service is available from 6 p.m. Friday, July 3, until 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 4. Tipsy Tow is available in the areas served by AAA Hawaii. However, Tipsy Tow is not offered by all AAA clubs.
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 service truck will be dispatched.
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 farther than five miles.
“A high crash risk from drinking and driving is associated with the holiday and AAA Hawaii encourages all motorists to think twice about getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking,” said AAA Hawaii’s general manager Liane Sumida.
Fourth of July is a traditional time for home parties and barbeques, as well as outings to restaurants and bars, and other excursions. These activities contribute to a relaxed atmosphere and more drinking, according to Sumida.
“It takes only one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills and affect vision, steering, braking, judgment and reaction time,” said Sumida. “Drivers should be aware that the law enforcement agencies are likely to be using extra patrols to look for drinking drivers during the holiday.”
Drinking drivers frequently don’t plan for other ways to get home because they are concerned about retrieving their vehicle. They cite the expense of taxis and time inconvenience as the major reasons they don’t use alternative transportation, according to AAA Hawaii.
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 about $15,000 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and insurance costs.
AAA Hawaii advises that motorists can avoid DUI arrests by keeping these safety tips in mind:
- Before and at social events, designate non-drinking drivers who can get everyone home safely.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride if you have been drinking.
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
- Keep a cab company telephone number in your wallet so you can call for a ride home. There are also apps available to use to secure a ride home as well.
- As a party host and good friend or loving family member, offer a variety of non-alcoholic drink alternatives, serve food as well as dessert and coffee, and provide a gift to guests who volunteer to be designated drivers.
- Never serve alcohol to anyone under 21
- Have a back up plan to spend the night at the party instead of driving home under the influence.
- Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who have had too much to drink.
- 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.