By Sarah Naron
Whether it’s toasting with champagne as the ball drops, sipping a glass of wine with dinner, or tossing back cold ones around a bonfire, many people’s plans for New Year’s Eve include some form of alcohol consumption.
While celebrating the dawning of a new year with a drink or two is generally no cause for concern, the decision to get behind the wheel after doing so can lead to devastating consequences, as Palestine resident Eunice Auville pointed out.
“My brother was killed on New Year’s Eve seven years ago by a drunk driver,” she explained. “(He) was 22 when he died.”
Auville remembers her brother, Arron, as a “kind and friendly” individual who “believed in helping people” and enjoyed donating his time for activities such as visiting hospitals to read with pediatric patients and volunteering to coach basketball for children in the community.
“He wanted to make a difference in this world,” Auville said. “His death was a tragedy.”
Inspired by her brother and the accident that took his life, Auville now stands by ready to come to the rescue in the event that a friend or neighbor may need help getting home safely after having too much to drink.
“I’ve always offered help in any way I possibly could,” she says. “I’ve had a few takers in the past – not many.”
For a small fee to help cover gas, Auville is willing to provide a sober ride to individuals in the Palestine and Elkhart area who may find themselves with no other option.
“I just don’t want to see anyone else end up like my brother,” she said.
According to Lt. Ronnie Howell of the Grapeland Police Department, having a plan to get home is of utmost importance when planning a celebratory night out.
“We say you should plan ahead to have a designated driver; that’s probably the safest thing you can do,” Howell said.
Howell also suggested that partygoers who plan on drinking make arrangements to stay overnight where the party is being held.
“If you can’t, call a taxi,” he said. “If you’re in a group, you can probably split the cab fare.”
Howell further recommended calling a sober friend or family member.
“They’d probably rather pick you up than get you out of jail,” he pointed out.
“If worst comes to worst, call a tow truck,” he said. “They can tow your vehicle and take you to the house. It’s going to cost you a lot more, but it’s better than being on the road drunk.”
The Texas division of the American Automobile Association (AAA) will be offering a statewide service called Tipsy Tow to lend a hand to any drivers who may have overindulged.
“Drivers, bartenders, restaurant managers, party hosts or passengers of a drinking driver may call 1-800-222-4357 or 1-800-AAA-HELP for a free tow home of up to 10 miles,” explained Daniel Ambruster, Sr. Public Affairs Representative for AAA Texas and New Mexico. “Callers simply request a Tipsy Tow and will receive the free tow and ride home.”
According to Ambruster, rides will be provided by a regular roadside service truck contracted by the Texas division of AAA. For trips over 10 miles, individuals utilizing the Tipsy Tow service should expect to pay the regular rate charged by the contractor of the tow truck.
“You do not have to be an AAA member to use the Tipsy Tow service,” said Ambruster. “However, it is a one-way, one-time ride for a driver and tow for that driver’s vehicle. A request to transport anyone other than the driver of the vehicle does not qualify for a Tipsy Tow.”
The Tipsy Tow service will be available statewide between the hours of 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31 and 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.