New Year’s Eve is just one night out of the year. But on that one night, there are more police officers patrolling the streets than any other night of the year. That’s because more people drive drunk on New Year’s Eve than any other night of the year.
No party is worth the risk/price of a DWI.
Here are the facts about a DWI in the state of Minnesota.
1. Blood alcohol concentration. It is illegal to drive a car with a BAC of .08% or more [0.04% if you are driving a commercial vehicle.] Depending on the circumstances of the violation, you can be arrested even with a BAC of less than .08%.
There are several factors that affect BAC and everybody metabolizes alcohol at a different rate so there’s no exact formula to determine how many drinks it takes to reach a BAC of .08%. The chart below, however, gives BAC estimates that correspond to number drinks consumed and body weight.
2. Implied consent law. If a police officer stops you and asks you to take a blood, breath or urine test, it is against Minnesota law to refuse. The office is required to tell you that it is illegal to refuse the test and that if you refuse the test you are committing a crime.
You can refuse to take the test as long as you have not been in an accident where someone was seriously injured or killed. If you’re in such an accident then you cannot refuse the blood, breath or urine test. You should know, however, that if you refuse to take the test, you will have your driver’s license revoked for a minimum of one year. You can also be sentenced to up to one year and jail and fined $3,000.
3. Your Car. Generally speaking, you can expect your car to go to an impound lot while you go to jail. In addition to all the fines mentioned above, the Minneapolis impound lot will charge you the following?
St. Paul’s Impound Lot charges are similar.If you want someone else to get your car out for you, you’ll need a notarized statement and you’ll need to FAX the following information to the impound lot
Quite a hassle; though nothing compared with the process of a DWI case.
4. Penalties for the first misdemeanor DWI. If you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated, you could face:
There’s simply too much on the line to justify over-imbibing. Please consider celebrating with a sober driver, use public transportation, a cab/Uber/Lyft or ring in the New Year in the same place you’ll spend the night.
To Tip or NOt to Tip?
Hopefully you haven't had much experience with tow truck drivers.... because that would mean you have a car that runs great and you haven't gotten in any/many car wrecks.
But it also means you likely aren't sure what the tipping etiquette is when you do call a tow truck.
Like most service businesses, tipping is appreciated but not required. And in the tow truck industry not only is it not required but it is not expected. That's not to say, though, that the drivers don't appreciate a tip. They certainly do! And, of course, like other service businesses, the tip should be based on the level of service. Great service = great tip. Lousy service = lousy/no tip.
Some people feel like the prices charged by tow truck services are so exhorbitant that it doesn't warrant a tip. But more often than not it isn't the tow truck driver that sets the fees; it's the company he works for that sets the prices. And the tip isn't going to the company, it is going to the driver who provided you with roadside assistance.
You can read more here about tipping a tow truck driver from the perspective of both drivers and tow truck customers.
The other thing to consider is that the cost of operating a tow truck is pretty significant -- especially the insurance and maintenance. And these are two areas you don't want your tow truck provider to skimp on. So the rates charged need to cover the company's high out-of-pocket costs. At Smitty Big Towing and Recovery we are proud to be among the most affordable tow truck services in St Paul-Minneapolis. We certainly don't skimp on our truck maintenance and insurance coverage, but we do keep a tight handle on other expenses so that we can pass the savings on to you, our customer.
If you do decide to tip your tow truck driver, we recommend you tip with cash. Why? There are a few reasons.
1. To ensure the tip goes to the driver. At Smitty Big Tow we guarantee the full tip goes 100% to the driver. But if you use another tow truck company, that may not be the case. The drivers may be expected/required to pool their tips and share them equally at the end of shift, much like many restaurants to. If the tip is on the credit card, the driver has no control over whether or not he shares the tip.
2. When you tip in cash, the driver can take the money home that night. If you tip on the credit card, the driver will likely have to wait until the book-keeper completes the books at the end of the week or month before the driver gets the tip. And then there's the chance of human error - getting the right tip amount to the right driver.
3. Tow truck companies (and all companies that accept credit card payments) have to pay a fee to the credit card company for each payment processed. Some tow truck owners deduct that fee from the tow truck driver's tip, thus reducing the amount of tip you intended for him to receive.
Of course, many people don't carry cash these days. If that's the case, then, by all means, add a tip to the credit card. If the driver is worthy of a tip and you don't have any cash on you, it's better to add the tip to the credit card than to not tip.
What services to tip for.
Let's be realistic. If you've been in a life-threatening accident, no one expects you to tip the tow truck driver.
But if you've called a tow truck because you've locked the keys in your car, you've run out of gas, you need a flat tire replaced on the side of the highway with cars whizzing by, your battery died in the mall parking lot and you need a jump start -- these are all services that deserve a tip.... IF the tow truck driver is courteous, professional, helpful, timely, etc. You know; the qualities that make any service professional worthy of a tip.
In the end, it is completely up to you whether or not to tip a tow truck driver. In our experience about 50% of consumers do tip us for our superior customer service. Whether you tip us or not, at Smitty Big Towing and Recovery, we strive to provide you with exceptional customer service in the hopes that you will refer us to your friends, family and colleagues.
As one of many tow trucks responding to the 900+ accidents in Minnesota this past weekend, I saw many people putting their lives in danger unnecessarily. .For example, one woman spun out on 494 and ended up in the middle lane. She got out of her car and put her hood up. Then she stood outside, in front of her car, in the middle lane of 494 while waiting for a tow truck. Cars were going by on either side of her.
If her car spun out it stands to reason that other cars could spin out in that same area -- and pin this woman between her car and another. Thankfully that isn't what happened. But it is because I saw this woman standing in the middle of 494 that I felt compelled to share these tips on WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THE TOW TRUCK if you break down on a highway.
If your car is drive-able, move over to the shoulder. Whether you move over to the shoulder or are stopped in an active lane of traffic, turn on your hazard lights (aka "flashers") to warn other drivers that you are there. If it is dark, it's also advisable to turn on your headlights and the interior lights to be even more visible to others.
Stay in your car and keep your seatbelt as a safety precaution in the event another car crashes into you.
During the winter, keep the doors and windows closed to retain the heat in your car as best as possible.
"If you must exit your car, only do so when traffic is clear and wait well away from the highway, ahead of your car and behind guardrails, if they’re present," says the Canadian Automobile Association.
The only time we would suggest you get out of your car on the highway is if it is on fire. And we agree with the CAA; climb over the guardrail, so that you have the protection of the guardrail if another car slides out and skids toward you.
More snow is forecast for this coming Friday. If you find yourself in an accident or broken down on a highway, keep these tips front of mind. Nothing is more important than your safety.
Everyone knows you must move over for a police car, ambulance, fire truck or construction workers. But did you know the law in Minnesota requires you to move over for a tow truck as well?
In 2000 Minnesota inacted the Ted Foss Move Over Law.
Minnesota is not alone in this move over law. 49 of the 50 United States require vehicles to vacate the lane closest to the stationary vehicle if safe to do so. Some states require drivers to merge over to the farthest lane away from the stationary vehicle while other states require you slow by a specified number of miles per hour in addition to vacating the lane closest to the tow truck.
Only New Hampshire does not specifically require you to vacate the nearest lane. Instead their law reads, "slow to a safe speed and give wide berth to stationary emergency vehicles" (including tow trucks).
The District of Columbia, though not a state, has no move over law on the books.
On behalf of all tow truck drivers in the Twin Cities we appreciate you moving over in order to provide us with a safer environment to assist drivers who have broken down, been in an accident, had a flat tire, run out of gas, slid into a snow bank or for whatever reason have called us for roadside assistance.
The statistics are NOT on your side. 73% of young drivers experienced a breakdown last year. And 95% of all drivers break down at least once in their life.
If this is the first winter your teen driver will be driving, you definitely need to talk with them about what to do if they end up in a snow bank, have a flat tire, the car breaks down, or if they lock their keys in the car.
And the time to have this talk is BEFORE it happens. After all you don't want your 16 year old daughter calling her boyfriend to rescue her from the side of I-35W as cars goes whizzing by. That's not safe for either one of them. But if your daughter thinks she'll get in trouble for breaking down, that's exactly who her first call will be to.
Same goes for when your son gets rear-ended on 494. We know, because we've been eventually called to the scene to help a customer's teen and found his best friend (who was not in the car at the time of the fender-bender) was already there.
Your teen driver needs to know ahead of time what you expect them to do. Just like you've told them to wear their seat belt and not text and drive, tell them to put our number -- 651-955-6475 -- in their phone. Explain to them that pretty much everyone breaks down at some point in their life and it's young drivers most often.
Walk through the various scenarios with them. If they're at the Mall of America and discover they've locked their keys in the car, tell them NOT to stand by the car while they wait for help. It's safer to wait inside. Take note of the parking area they have parked in, then go back inside and wait for us to call them when we arrive. THEN they can come out to the car.
If they are broken down on the side of a highway, instruct them to stay inside the car for both warmth AND safety. Lock the doors and wait until we arrive. Do NOT accept assistance from another tow truck who "just happened to be driving by." These are called "tow truck bandits" and they are scammers.
Speaking of staying warm and safe inside the car -- have you put a winter safety kit in your teen's car? If not, here's what we recommend you have in every car during a Minnesota winter:
You may want to consider also including a pair of boots, gloves and wool socks, but at the very least be sure you have these three items in every vehicle you and your family members will drive this winter. Minnesota winters are nothing to gamble with!
We've been very fortunate so far this winter with regards to our weather. Normally by this time of the year in Minnesota, we've already had a few snowfalls, several icy rush hours and many spin outs.
"December 1 marks the beginning of what is, historically, the coldest 90 days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. An average of 11.9 inches of snow falls in December at KMSP, second only to January," says Minneapolis - St Paul meteorologist Paul Douglas. And he predicts, "by the second weekend of December it will look like winter out there."
If that's the case, it's important that you think ahead about what you'll do if you end up in a skid or spin out. Talk with your teen driver about how to regain control of the car if they hit an icy patch while driving. If you aren't sure yourself, here's the advice given by Tanner Foust, world record holder, stunt driver and star of Top Gear USA.
"The three times when you're driving at the limit of a vehicle's capability, according to Foust, are in racing, in an emergency avoidance maneuver, and when you are driving on a low-grip surface like snow and ice. So learning how to control a vehicle when it steps past the limits of adhesion is key. Of course in newer cars, the stability control system will attempt to correct a skid. But in the slickest conditions it can't do all the work. When the front tires break traction and begin to slide first, it's called understeer. Faust says this the most common type of skid, caused by entering a corner too quickly and at the same time, turning the tires too sharply. "First you need to put load back onto the front tires," says Foust. So he suggests slowly releasing pressure on the throttle, straightening the steering wheel and waiting (very briefly) for the tires regain traction. Then be sure to look where you want to end up and point the front tires in that direction. "When you're sliding toward the guardrail or ditch, it feels like it could take forever to regain traction," he cautions. "It takes a long time to master that correction because it's very counterintuitive." " (source: Popular Mechanics)
The worst thing about this though is it isn't like you can take your teen out and practice this like you do when they have their driving permit and you take them into an empty parking lot and practice parking between the lines. But what you can do is watch this video with them and discuss how important it is to remain calm and follow the directions of Foust and driver safety expert Dr. William Van Tassel. (click on photo below to watch video "How to pull out of a skid" on YouTube.)
If you, or your teen driver, do end up. in a snow bank and need a tow truck to winch you out, give us a call at 651.955.6475