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Celebrate safely, please

December 30, 1998

If there was ever a day in sore need of some sober reflection, today's the day. For too many, the New Year's celebration is observed with the binge drinking of alcoholic beverages, and worse, with unwise decisions to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle afterwards. We urge those who find themselves in an intoxicated condition not to turn the folly of drinking too much into a possible fatality.

Think it can't happen to you? During 1997 in Maryland, more than 200 people were killed by alcohol and drug-impaired drivers. That total doesn't count the number of drivers who were apprehended while weaving down the road, or those who are charged after a non-fatal accident. One only has to read the lists of convicted drivers published monthly in The Herald-Mail to realize that this sort of arrest happens every day.

Police agencies across Maryland have told Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, a citizens' lobby group, that they will be out in force today, looking for intoxicated drivers. Fortunately, there are some other choices for those too tipsy to drive safely.

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They include:




- Turner Taxi's free ride service, an annual tradition in Washington County since 1981. Between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., Turner cabs will take intoxicated drivers from private parties or taverns to their homes, at no charge. Bartenders, restaurant managers and those hosting private parties are encouraged to summon taxis for intoxicated guests by calling 301-733-7788.

- The American Automobile Association is sponsoring "Operation Tipsy Tow." AAA will tow an intoxicated driver's vehicle up to 15 miles, at no charge. The service, not restricted to AAA members, can be accessed by calling 1-800-AAA-Help.

Elsewhere on this page, author Julia Vitullo-Martin talks about the First Night movement, which promotes family-type, alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebrations, which have caught on in Silver Spring and Annapolis, Md. Perhaps their example with inspire some local group to plan a New Year's Eve event that doesn't put anyone's life or health at risk.

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