TAMPA, Florida -- Inspired by recent 10Investigates WTSP reports into unfair towing outside bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, Ellen Snelling has new determination -- and a new strategy -- for reducing the number of drunken drivers on Tampa Bay roadways.
Snelling, the chair of the Tampa Alcohol Coalition (TAC) and an active member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), says she will soon meet with Tampa city council members to discuss ways the city could further "incentivize" drivers to find alternative ways home if they've had too much too drink.
Council already voted to examine how it can implement -- and educate about -- its unique anti-overnight towing ordinance outside restaurants and bars. The ordinance was designed to protect drivers' cars until noon the next day if they choose not to drive it home. And now, numerous other cities and counties are considering copying the rule.
But Snelling says Tampa doesn't have to stop with its existing ordinance; she's calling on elected and community leaders to form a think tank to explore what other cities are doing to encourage more responsible decisions at the end of a night out.
She points to places such as:
- Denver and other Colorado cities, which encourage free overnight parking in specific areas.
- Austin, which waives morning parking tickets for anyone who has a taxi or bus receipt from the night before.
- Green Bay, Wisconsin, which has discussed free parking for bar-goers who obtain an overnight windshield placard from the establishment they're visiting.
"Don't tow people's cars," Snelling said, referencing 10Investigates' undercover findings along Tampa's South Howard Avenue. "We want people to be responsible ... do you want that (intoxicated) person to get in their car and they go and kill somebody? So it's our responsibility, too."
She says Hillsborough County, the fourth-most populous county in Florida, is the state's leader for DUI arrests and second-most in DUI-related crashes.
And although Uber has greatly helped get intoxicated bar patrons home safely, Snelling says services like Zingo and Tow-2-Go, which can get your car home safely too, should be used more.
Tampa's city council is expected to move forward on improving its anti-overnight towing ordinance on March 17.
2/24/16: Pasco now considering copying Tampa's ordinance
2/16/16: Hillsborough moves toward better tow laws
2/10/16: Pinellas officials want tow truck protections, too
2/9/16: Refunds for tow victims, as Hillsborough eyes amnesty law
2/9/16: EDITORIAL: Other cities should copy Tampa
2/8/16: Tampa council calls for immediate tow fixes
2/7/16: Tow trucks penalizing drinkers who don't drive
1/25/16: Confronting predatory towing & how to get a refund if you're towed illegally
1/18/16: Failure to "move over" puts tow operators in danger