MANATEE -- It should be easy for a celebrant Wednesday welcoming in 2015 to not drink and drive.
There are cabs, designated drivers and even a Sarasota and Manatee program called Tow To Go offered by Lakewood Ranch Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, which delivers the partier and his or her vehicle home safely and free via AAA tow truck.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office still estimates a half-dozen people will be arrested from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday for drunken driving.
Last New Year's Eve, five suspects were arrested in Manatee County for driving under the influence, sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow said.
"You would like to think
with all the public education and help out there no one would drink and drive anymore, but unfortunately it still happens and New Year's Eve is the biggest night of the year for it," Bristow said.
A sheriff's office saturation patrol Wednesday will stage many deputies in high-profile areas to arrest drunken drivers, Bristow said.
"We are targeting areas where there is a high DUI-related history of arrests and crashes," Bristow said.
Although the sheriff's office did not track what happened with each of the five New Year's Eve arrests in 2013 to track, Bristow said each convicted driver paid roughly $10,000 in legal fees, some may have had jail time and lost driving privileges.
The Sarasota Police Department will also be out in force Wednesday looking for drunken drivers and is asking visitors and residents to refrain from celebratory gunfire
Tow to Go solution
Gold Coast Eagle Distributing and its Tow To Go partner, AAA, have taken 23,000 intoxicated drivers home since 1998, said President/Owner John Saputo, who invented the national program with his staff.
"If you include alcohol in your festivities, please plan ahead and arrange to use alternate transportation, a designated driver, a cab or our Tow To Go," Saputo said. "Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable."
Those who need a ride home can call AAA at 855-286-9246 and simply say: "I am calling Tow To Go. I've had too much to drink. Please pick me up and take me home," said Hugh Shields, a Gold Coast Distributing spokesman. "From wherever the pickup is, they can go 10 miles for free."
The tow trucks can take two people home. Tow to Go is valid through 6 a.m. Jan. 1.
"We don't take appointments," Shields said. "It's a 'call as needed' program."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.