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Police gear up to catch drunk drivers; rideshare drivers prepare for drunk passengers

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 13:11:28-04

This Fourth of July, local police officers are gearing up to catch drunk drivers while local ride-share drivers are preparing for drunk passengers.

If you choose to consume alcohol while you celebrate America, police hope you take advantage of the number of sober options available before getting behind the wheel.

“Majority of my rides are actually drunk people,” said Anton Nicola, an Uber/Lyft driver.

Nicola is preparing for a busy holiday.

With sickness bags stocked up, he is ready to offer a sober ride.

“If anyone throws up in this vehicle, their card can be charged up to $300 and then usually what happens is they whip out these [sickness bags] and they take care of their friend for me,” Nicola said.

Ride-share apps are something CHP officers encourage as they beef up their drunk and distracted driving patrol.

“This is obviously a big getaway weekend the way this particular holiday falls. I would imagine it’s going to be a really long weekend,” said Officer Mike Poelking, California Highway Patrol San Luis Obispo spokesperson.

“People think, ‘I’m impervious, I’ll be able to do this no problem’ and you can see that’s not the reality,” he said.

According to AAA, an estimated 1,244 drivers were arrested for DUI and 47 were killed during the Fourth of July in 2017.

A DUI is much more expensive than an Uber or Lyft ride, even if there is a surge charge.

A DUI can cost you upwards of $10,000.

As a last resort, AAA is offering ‘Tispy Tow’, a free service for anyone in need of a sober ride.

You can use Tipsy Tow as a free ride home, but AAA says you cannot use it as a ride to another drinking establishment.
You can use Tipsy Tow as a free ride home, but AAA says you cannot use it as a ride to another drinking establishment.


“You don’t have to be a member of AAA, you just call our number and we will tow your vehicle and you, the person, to your home,” said Chris Olvera, Santa Barbara/Lompoc AAA branch manager.

For the 23rd year, Tipsy Tow will be available from 6 p.m. July 4 through 6 a.m. July 5.

“Ten years ago, you would wait 30 to 40 minutes for a cab, now it’s 3 to 5 minutes,” Nicola said. “There are so many options, there is no excuse to drive.”

Police and sober drivers say have fun, but be responsible.

The maximum enforcement period starts Wednesday at 6 p.m. and runs until 11:59 p.m. July 7.