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Plan ahead to avoid a New Year's Eve you'll regret

Getting a DUI is one very costly way to start the new year. Not to mention someone could end up dead. So avoid that trip to jail and the thousands you'd pay in legal costs and follow our guide to having a safe holiday. Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer

• Call a cab

Most cab companies we called are not taking reservations for New Year's Eve because it's far too busy a night. Expect to wait an hour or more if you are in a busy party zone, but it could be as soon as 10 minutes. If you are taking a cab to the party, they suggest calling early in the day. Be kind to your driver and tip 20 percent of the fare.

Today is a good time to 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.

• Free towing

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 (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246. And it's not just on New Year's Eve — the program is running every day from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1. Allow at least an hour for the tow truck's arrival.

• Hire a driver

If you'd rather have your car in the driveway in the morning, you can make a reservation ahead of time for the Zingo 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 Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties 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. You can make reservations in advance or allow 45 minutes or so if you call on a busy night like New Year's.

• Take a trolley

The TECO Line Streetcar System will operate from noon to 1:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve. It costs $2.50 per ride or $5 for a one-day pass. For maps and details, see www.goHART.org or call (813) 254-4278.

• Call in a favor

Make a trade with your party mates for a designated driver. You've got Super Bowl parties and St. Patrick's Day coming up, so let's make a deal.

Plan ahead to avoid a New Year's Eve you'll regret 12/26/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 24, 2012 3:50pm]

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