Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when family gathers together to celebrate the things they are thankful for. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is also a peak season for drunk driving arrests. Police officers and the highway patrol will be on the lookout for drivers who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the holiday.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), a million more people will be traveling this Thanksgiving compared to last year, based on economic factors including increased consumer spending. Almost 90% of travelers will be driving.
Thanksgiving is among the deadliest driving days in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). From 1998 to 2008, an average of 572 people died over the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday. There are a number of factors contributing to the increased fatality rate during Thanksgiving. More people are on the road for longer periods of time, driving while drowsy or using their phones to communicate with family.
Alcohol is also a factor in many of these fatal accidents. Drunk driving arrests peak between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Many people drive home for the holidays, and enjoy festive celebrations with friends and family. This can include wine with dinner, tailgating football games, or catching up with childhood friends.
The day before Thanksgiving is sometimes called “Black Wednesday,” or even “Blackout Wednesday,” so named because it is one of the busiest nights for bars. When people return home to visit their families, they often go out the night before Thanksgiving to meet up with old friends, and enjoy a few drinks to start off the long weekend. Unfortunately, many people do not adequately plan for how they will get home. Others underestimate the number of drinks they had or the effects of alcohol on their driving.
Law enforcement departments are well aware of the increase in drinking and driving during the holiday. Highway patrol, police officers, and sheriff's deputies may conduct sobriety checkpoints or increase DUI patrols over the holidays.
According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), in 2015, 35 people died in fatal car accidents over the holiday weekend, down from 45 deaths in 2014. Officers made over 1,000 DUI arrests during that period last year. This year, the CHP is again planning its annual Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP), to begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and continue through Sunday. According to the CHP, all available CHP officers will be on patrol.
If you plan on drinking over the Thanksgiving holiday, designate a sober driver or allow for plenty of time to sober up before driving. If you do end up under arrest, contact a DUI lawyer who has dedicated their legal career to defending people charged drunk driving in the East Bay. With over 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a DUI conviction can affect your future, and how to fight to keep a conviction off your record. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.