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Plan ahead to avoid a DUI on New Year's Eve

Trust us, you do not want to get a DUI on Saturday night. It's one very costly ticket that will land you in jail for the night, curb your own driving for close to a year and cost you thousands. Not to mention it's dangerous. Here are some tips to avoid all that:

Call a cab — early

Most cab companies we called are not taking reservations for New Year's Eve because it's far too busy of a night. They suggested calling an hour in advance of when you want the car to arrive. If you are taking a cab to the party, they suggested calling early in the day. Expect to pay the same as any other day. Standard meter and flat rates set by the Public Transportation Commission will apply. Be kind to your driver and tip 20 percent of the fare.

While you are thinking about it, program in advance several cab numbers on your cell phone so you don't have to search for a number. Here are a few: Yellow Cab, (813) 253-0121 or (727) 799-2222; Red Top Cab Co., (813) 888-5008; and United Cab Co., (813) 253-2424. If you don't have a number, ask the bar manager.

Other options

• If you'd rather not leave your car at a bar, you can call AAA's free "Tow to Go" program, which will tow you home, even if you aren't a member of AAA. Call toll-free 1-800-AAA-HELP (222-4357). And it's not just on New Year's Eve — the program is running every day through Jan. 2. Allow at least an hour for the tow truck's arrival.

• Put the number of Zingo in your phone now. Or better yet, make a reservation ahead of time for this fleet of designated drivers who show up on a scooter that they can fold and put in the trunk before driving you home. It operates in the bay area and runs about $5-$10 more than a cab, depending on how far you are going. They take all credit cards or will drive you to an ATM. Call toll-free 1-888-946-4611. Call about two hours before you want to be driven home if you don't make a reservation.

• Consider public transportation. The TECO Line Streetcar System will operate from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve. It costs $2.50 per ride. For maps and details, see www.goHART.org or call (813) 254-4278. The Suncoast Beach Trolley runs every 20-30 minutes until midnight on Friday and Saturday. See www.psta.net for maps and details.

• Make a deal with your significant other or a close friend to trade favors as a designated driver. You've got Super Bowl parties coming up, so let the haggling begin.

Plan ahead to avoid a DUI on New Year's Eve 12/28/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 3:30am]

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