2013 is just about to wind down, and at Midnight on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 is the dawn of a new year. We've had more traffic pattern changes out there on Interstate 275, especially the recent traffic pattern change that has motorists from southbound Interstate 275 exiting onto Himes Avenue (Exit 41C) from the left lane as part of the mega-reconstruction project that is supposed to wrap up around the later part of 2016. Believe me, it will be a better Interstate 275 in Tampa when it's all said and done.
Now that New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is fast approaching, it's time for my annual reminder on celebrating the holidays safely, whether it is New Year's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July or any other holiday throughout the year including the unofficial holiday of Super Bowl Sunday. You can find my tips to celebrate the holidays right here at Interstate275Florida.com (link will open a PDF document in a new window).
Just remember, if you are celebrating New Year's Eve and the beginning of 2014 and alcoholic beverages are part of the celebrations, may I give you some words of advice, especially if you had too much?
1. Designate a driver to take you home.
2. Call a taxi cab and have a taxi cab driver take you home.
3. Call AAA's Tow To Go at 1 (855) 286-9246.
4. Stay the night at a friend's house.
5. Stay the night at a hotel, such as the Hilton Downtown St. Petersburg Bayfront, the Hampton Inn Downtown St. Petersburg, the Hampton Inn in Ybor City in Tampa or any other hotel in the Tampa/St. Petersburg region. Rates may be high for New Year's Eve, but it's better to spend $150-$175 for one night's hotel room than spending at least $10,000 defending yourself against a DUI charge, if not more. (Not to mention spending the first few hours of 2014 in the Pinellas or Hillsborough County Jails in their respective booking and holding areas, as you will not be able to even make bail until you are sober enough).
6. The Tampa Bay region's law enforcement agencies - such as the Florida Highway Patrol, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, as well as the St. Petersburg Police Department and Tampa Police Department, just to name a few - will be out in full force New Year's Eve and New Year's Morning with active patrols looking for impaired drivers as well as the use of DUI checkpoints. If you are pulled over and caught, you will be arrested for DUI. Once the officer or FHP trooper puts those nickel plated law enforcement regulation handcuffs on you behind your back it is the beginning of what lies ahead as far as a DUI arrest is concerned.
7. DUI can have serious ramifications as far as your future is concerned - your job, your career, even taking a trip to Canada. (Convicted of a DUI? You will have an extremely hard time entering Canada for a vacation trip!) Besides, your auto insurance rates will soar right through the roof, so much that you will be a high risk driver and insurance companies will either charge you extremely high rates or drop you altogether.
And one more thing: Forget about renting a car if you were recently convicted of a DUI - the major car rental agencies, such as Alamo and Dollar, do check driving records with the swipe of your driver's license; all it takes is for the car rental agent to find out that you had a recent DUI conviction and the agent denies your rental. Besides, it's way more embarrassing than your credit card being declined.
And you will have a record for a DUI, even if it's your first time. Florida law prohibits judges from withholding adjudication of guilt on any DUI charge, if you are found guilty.
Sobering? New Year's Eve, the stroke of midnight, the sounds of Auld Lang Syne and the sun rising on 2014 doesn't have to end in a DUI arrest, or worse.
As we did with 2013, let's start 2014 with New Year's Day on a positive note! Happy New Year from Interstate275Florida.com!