The countdown has begun! The final day of 2014 is here. Are you planning on partying tonight? How about going out on a boat to stay away from crowds? By now we all know that driving on certain days of the year are more risky than others, New Year’s Eve night is no exception. If you are boating this holiday then these precautions are for you, too! Did you know that one-half of all boating accidents related to alcohol involve someone falling overboard?
According to ConsumerReports.org alcohol-related traffic fatalities are up on this night alone by 150%! We are not ignorant to the fact that drinking and driving is dangerous and should not be done. Chances are you will be with friends and family, in which case there can be a sober driver out of your group. With that being said, sometimes the whole group wants to party the night away, so plan on taking a cab. Some folks think they can walk to their destinations but this proves just as dangerous. The N.H.T.S.A. reports that there is an average of 22 deaths of pedestrians each year on New Year’s Eve. Walking while under the influence can lead you down a road of trouble. Your mind and body are not capable of making quick, rational decisions which can save your life if you get lost, lose your phone, or find yourself in a bad situation. Driving is not an option if you are under the influence, especially in Florida, Arizona and Louisiana where the N.H.T.S.A has implemented the “No Refusal Initiative.” This initiative is designed to quickly obtain warrants from on-call judges in order to collect blood samples for a breathalyzer. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer in these (and other) states then an officer will make the call with your information to have your blood ordered on the spot-at this point you will be up a river with no paddle. Don’t risk your health, your life, and the lives of others by acting irrational.
Florida is home to water, water, and water! Mix that with a boat, a salty margarita and you’ve got yourself a cocktail of trouble. The police will not only be present on land but on sea as well. In Polk County we take pride in our chain of lakes, so let’s keep them beautiful by being responsible. A first time BUI offender can rack up fees from $1000-$7500. There is no excuse or lesser penalty for drinking while operating a boat. In fact, the fines and damages are incredibly more costly. According to www.DUI.Lifetips.com boating while intoxicated is far more popular than driving on the road during the holidays. You could have your license suspended -on the spot- by a police officer or the coast guard.
I have compiled a list of local safe ride programs that are available to our community to get home safely. In Orlando, Tampa Bay, and Polk County there is an excellent service called “Be My DD.” They provide a personal driver ($17.50 an hour) or a car pickup service, where the coach will drive you and your vehicle home for a $25.00 fee at a rate of $3.45 per mile. You can visit their website at www.bemydd.com or call them for immediate assistance at 1-877-823-6933. There is also Designated Driver Alternative of Tampa Bay, for a $20 pick-up fee (FREE pickup for active-duty military with valid I.D.) and a rate of $2.00 per mile, you cannot beat their offer! Please visit www.dda-tampa.com or call (813)444-2332 for immediate dispatch. Lastly, there is the wonderful world of www.Craigslist.org where our community can find ride share options in their area, for free or small gas fees. Start your New Year celebration off on the right foot by planning ahead, taking action to prevent drunk driving, and by being safe.