Drinking for New Year’s Eve? Get a designated driver

AAA’s Tow to Go program suspended; advocates urging people to plan ahead before New Year’s Eve celebrations

It’s New Year’s Eve, and even though the pandemic has changed many plans, some are still planning to ring in 2021 with a bang. The No. 1 concern for many is the continued risk of encountering a drunk driver during or after New Year’s celebrations.

AAA’s “Tow to Go” program is currently suspended. With that, advocates are pushing harder for people to make plans for a designated driver before heading out to celebrate.

Even though this has been a tough year, people can still count on the fireworks and having a drink to bid 2020 farewell. News4jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a retired police officer, saw many people get arrested due to drinking and driving while celebrating the holidays.

“Yes, 2020 has been a very challenging year,” Jefferson. “Don’t start off 2021 making it challenging for yourself by getting behind the wheel of a car after you drink, and get your first DUI.”

Jefferson says even if you feel like you’re OK to drive, police might not agree. He stresses law enforcement officers will be in locations specifically watching for drunk drivers. He says it is for the safety of everyone else.

“If you’re drunk, or if you’ve had a drink, have a designated driver,” Jefferson said. “There are opportunities for you not to put yourself in that kind of situation.”

While AAA’s “Tow to Go” program is suspended, other companies are still stepping up to offer free rides. Like Farah and Farah. You will need to sign up early ahead of time. To learn more, click here.

While the Florida Highway Patrol data for drunk driving crashes in all of 2020 isn’t available yet, they show a slight drop in the two previous years. In 2018, FHP statistics show there were 354 crashes. A year later in 2019, that number dropped to 291. 

By the same token, there was a drop in drunk driving fatalities in that same time frame. In 2018, there were 19 alcohol-related fatalities. In 2019, the number dropped to 15. To see more of the trends, click here.

Jefferson also wants to remind people if you’ve seen someone drinking who says they feel fine, and offer a ride to not go with them. Only ride with people you know for a fact have not been drinking.

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