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Make plans, be prepared

As you’re making your plans for Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, there are a number of options to get home safely. The only thing that isn’t an option is to drink and drive.

You can plan ahead to have a designated driver stay sober, which is the preferred option. But, if you fail to plan ahead, all is not lost. Please don’t throw safety out the window.

You can call in reinforcements in the form of a quick phone call to a friend who might happen to be sober, a ride-sharing app or a taxi cab. You can piggyback on someone else’s designated driver. You can crash on the host’s couch.

Any of these options is preferable to driving drunk. If they sound expensive to you, keep this in mind: Even a taxi cab is less expensive than an arrest for driving under the influence.

The inconvenience factor, however, can weigh heavily on the mind when considering whether to take advantage of these more responsible options. All of those options, except for couch-crashing, leave your car at a location that’s not home. You can always pick it up the next day, but someone who’s too drunk to drive also doesn’t usually examine all of the options rationally.

That’s where AAA Tidewater Virginia’s Tipsy Tow program comes in.

The program offers a ride home for the intoxicated person along with a tow for their vehicle. The program is free to all. You don’t have to be a AAA member to call.

The program actually starts on Halloween weekend each year and runs until 6 a.m. Jan. 1.

The service is available to the Greater Hampton Roads area, including Suffolk. It excludes rides for passengers and offers only a one-way, one-time ride for the driver. The destination must be the driver’s residence.

Those who have had too much to drink can simply call 1-800-AAA-HELP (go ahead and save that in your phone now if you plan on partying this week) and tell the dispatcher, “I need a Tipsy Tow.”

It’s always preferable to make plans before you go out, because it’s hard to arrange other transportation on short notice while intoxicated.

But, should you find yourself drunk with no way to get yourself or your car home, this program is a great option. AAA should be applauded for doing this program, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of it if they need it.