As the world gets ready for New Year's Eve festivities on this last day of 2012, there’s a well-meaning rumor going around on social media that may do more harm than good.
The American Automobile Association, or AAA, is offering a service Monday night for revelers who find themselves too tipsy to get behind the wheel -- you give them a drunk dial, and they’ll come to tow your car back home.
The service has gained plenty of praise, thanks in part to a Facebook post that’s showing up on hundreds of profiles across the country. It offers an 800 number to access the service, and includes a plea to repost.
“You don’t have to be an AAA member,” it says. “From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on New Year's Eve/Day they will take your drunk self and your car home for free … Nationwide!”
That’s false. The AAA program is not nationwide. It is also not necessarily open to non-AAA members in all areas. And the phone number provided will take you to an automated menu -- not the fastest way to get a tow truck.
“The program is available in many different places, and every AAA club has its own phone number,” explained Michael Green, an AAA public relations manager.
“Each local branch is essentially an independent organization, all loosely federated together within the AAA. They make their own decisions as to whether or not to provide the Tipsy Tow [also called Tow-to-Go] service. We would stress that people contact their own club for specific information.”
You can find a local AAA branch by visiting the company website here, which will automatically redirect you to a local website based on your current location. (If the location is wrong, try here instead.)
According to a May press release, the program is available in some -- but not necessarily all -- areas within the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota and Oklahoma. Things may have changed since then, so a call to your local branch is the only way to be sure.
In locales where the Tipsy Tow program is not offered, smaller community-based groups often step in to provide similar services. It’s not always free, but it’s better than driving drunk. AAA provides a comprehensive list of those services here.
Of course, the best solution is not to put yourself in the situation where getting a tow is your only option.
“We recommend that motorists have a plan before they go out for New Year's Eve,” says Green. “New Year's Eve is consistently rated one of the most dangerous nights of the year in terms of drunk driving, so people should have designated drivers, and people should plan ahead on how to get home safely.”