AP file photoDUI dip: Last New Year’s Day

Free trips home offered by many on New Year's Eve

If you wind up three sheets to the wind on New Years’s Eve — or even just one, since “buzzed driving is drunk driving” — what’s the best way to get home from that party? There are several ways that won’t cost you a cent.

Alameda-based injury lawyer William Berg will pay your cab fare, up to $35. His firm has operated its Safe and Sober Cab Ride Home program on major drinking holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo since 2004.

Most public transit will be free for at least part of New Year’s Eve, including Muni, Caltrain and SamTrans. BART will not be free, but it will have extended hours.

And if you drive to the party but wind up plastered after the clock strikes midnight, AAA will give you and your car a ride for free as part of its Tipsy Tow program.

“People really do need to arrange for some alternate method of getting home,” said Jan Ford, the public information director with Avoid the 8, a statewide law enforcement campaign against drunken driving. “We’re not kidding.”

New Year’s drunken driving arrests have declined over the past few years in San Francisco. Ford hopes the trend will continue.

“It’s taking a nice nosedive,” Ford said. “I hope that people are getting the message.”

Just 12 people were arrested for DUI in The City on Jan. 1, 2011, she said, compared with 20 five years ago. But New Year’s Eve is still one of the top nights for drunken driving, and police departments statewide are planning to set up DUI checkpoints Saturday night, including at Eighth and Folsom streets in the South of Market area.

“Police generally call it amateur night,” Ford said. “That’s when people who hardly drink at all will drink a little, moderate drinkers will drink a lot, and you don’t even want to know about the heavy drinkers.”

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

Hitching a ride

Whether you’re blotto or just buzzed, here’s how to get home safely on New Year’s Eve.

Muni: Buses, Metro and cable cars are free from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Extended service on some lines.

BART: Service extended until 3 a.m. To ease congestion for passengers going to and from the fireworks show, some lines will skip the Embarcadero station and others will skip Montgomery.

Caltrain: Free after 11 p.m., service extended until 2:15 a.m.

SamTrans: Free from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Taxi: In The City, call Luxor Cab at (415) 282-4141. In Oakland, Alameda or Berkeley, call Veterans Cab at (800) 281-4488. From 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., the ride is free up to $35 if you mention Berg Injury Lawyers.

Tow truck: Call (800) 222-4357 and tell the AAA operator, “I need a Tipsy Tow.” Free; 10 miles maximum.

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