Cinco de Mayo, the May 5 commemoration of Mexican heritage and pride, is often celebrated with festivities that include alcohol. If you drink during the celebration, AAA will take you and your car home free of charge.
On Thursday, May 5, the American Automobile Association will be offering free tow and ride home through its Tipsy Tow program. AAA will offer the service from 6 p.m. on Thursday till 6 a.m. on Friday, May 6.
The free, five-mile tow home for drivers who have been drinking is available to all motorists including non-members. Drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders and restaurant managers can call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow home by telling the operator "I need a Tipsy Tow." No reservations are accepted.
Tipsy Tow is a one-way ride for the driver and vehicle to the driver's home. If there are additional passengers who need a ride, they will be taken to the driver's home as long is there is sufficient room in the tow truck.
"Many people enjoy getting into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, which tends to involve plenty of celebrating," said Cynthia Harris, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. "If you've been drinking alcohol, don't get behind the wheel. Give AAA a call and we'll make sure you get home safely."
Danville Police will be cracking down during Cinco de Mayo, with five extra patrol cars doing DUI suppression and saturation patrols.
"In conjunction with the Avoid 25 program, we will be…targeting impaired drivers in an effort to make the streets safe," said Danville Police Sgt. Brad Harmes. "We will be out in force between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. during Cinco de Mayo covering all of Danville and portions of unincorporated Danville including Alamo."
Harmes, who was a victim of a drunk driver while on patrol in San Ramon in 1998, said there has been an uptick in DUI arrests, especially during holidays.
During 2006, 17,602 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, representing 41 percent of all traffic-related deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drunk-driving crashes also account for about 36 percent of highway deaths of young people age 16 to 24 each year.
"It's O.K. to celebrate, but do it responsibly. If you know you're going to go out and plan on consuming alcohol, why not have a designated driver or telephone number to a taxi cab in your pocket to avoid putting yourself or other s in danger," Harmes said.
AAA estimates that a first time DUI conviction can cost up to $12,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees, and added insurance expenses.
"You can't put a price tag on a crash that causes an injury or death," according to AAA's website -- so plan accordingly!