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COUNTYWIDE : Towing Firms Offer Revelers Free Service

Fourteen towing services in Ventura County are offering a free tow for those too impaired by alcohol to drive home this holiday season.

The campaign to “Get T.O.W.E.D.,” or Towing Operators Working to Eliminate Drunk Driving, is billed as a free ride home for drivers and their cars.

“We’d rather go out and tow them home for free than go out later and tow what’s left,” said Dan McLaren, president of Airport Chevron & Towing Inc. of Oxnard. “It’s our way of giving something for Christmas that they can live with.”

The nationwide trend of offering free holiday towing service 24 hours a day through Jan. 2 began about five or six years ago, but reached Ventura County about two years ago, McLaren said. This is McLaren’s second year.

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“The reason we are doing this is hopefully to save a few lives,” said Joe Bentz, manager of Bob Carlson Automotive & Towing in Ventura. “We would rather have these people call us” than try to drive home drunk.

Towing services lose about $50 for each tow they perform for free, Bentz said, adding that his garage helped a dozen drivers last year.

But, Bentz added, “It’s done as a public service and I hope more people respond this year.”

Those offering the free service are: Larry’s Towing & Transport, Double R Towing and Bob Carlson Automotive & Towing in Ventura; Sierra Towing in Westlake Village; Adamson Automotive & Towing and Ojai Towing in Ojai; Jim’s Emergency Road Service and Roadway Towing & Storage in Camarillo; Steve’s Towing in Santa Paula; Swink’s Simi Valley Towing and Dave’s Club Service in Simi Valley; and Airport Chevron & Towing, McCarty & Sons Towing and Owl Towing & Storage in Oxnard.

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