But the Thanksgiving Holidays have more than their fair share of drinking. In fact, a study conducted by Forbes found that the Thanksgiving Holidays have the highest number of traffic fatalities each year, many of which are due to drunk drivers.
For many, Thanksgiving celebrations begin the night before. Unofficially, Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for bars across the country—so much so that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has earned the nicknames “Blackout Wednesday” and “Drinksgiving.”
Whenever there is cause for people to drink, there is cause for people to drink and drive. Thanksgiving Day itself is less known for drinking compared to eating, but the holiday festivities do have many Americans taking to the road. Those who have enjoyed a few (or more) drinks with their Thanksgiving feast might find themselves behind bars—or worse.
According to MADD, the proportion of people killed in drunk driving crashes over the Thanksgiving Holidays spikes every year – by about 30 percent when compared to the rest of the year.
As a response to the nationwide spike in drunk drivers, law enforcement across the country cracks down on drunk driving every year around Thanksgiving. Don’t get caught up in the sweep. Here are some tips to avoid a misdemeanor DUI charge this Turkey Day.
- Be Aware of DUI Checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Illinois, and Thanksgiving partiers may find themselves detained and arrested if they’re caught up in these roadblocks.
Checkpoints are organized at temporary and random locations, but Illinois residents may be able to learn more about where and when these sobriety checkpoints will pop up from sites like roadblock.org.
Additionally, there are phone apps that can inform drivers of the locations of these checkpoints in real time like PhantomAlert. No roadblock-locating technology should encourage you to drink and drive, but they’re a good resource to have nonetheless.
- Avoid Drowsy Driving
After a belly full of turkey and drinks, you might be more drowsy than drunk. But the double effect of alcohol and sleepiness can impair your ability to drive twice as much.
Even if you feel a little bit tired, and you’ve had a few drinks, it’s better to be on the safe side and refrain from driving. Your diminished driving ability may attract the attention of police officers who are looking for a drunk driver—to say nothing of the danger you’ll be to yourself and other motorists.
- Designate a Driver
You can avoid the threat of a DUI arrest entirely by designating a driver among your family and friends at the festivities. Holidays with the family can be stressful enough without the looming danger of an arrest. By getting someone to eschew drinking all together, you can put that worry to bed.
- Get a Ride or Tow
If you drove yourself to the festivities and drank a little more than you expected, you can always catch a ride with one of the many taxi services that are available in most areas.
Additionally, there are a number of apps like Uber and Lyft that can help you get home after drinking. It might be a little more expensive to travel this way on the holidays, but it’s not going to cost as much as a DUI.
Another service worth checking out is the AAA Holiday Safe Ride Program. If you’re worried about leaving your car overnight, AAA members and qualifying non-members can get their car towed home by the friendly people of AAA, free of charge. This service is available only in a few select locations around the US, so make sure to check if you qualify.
- Plan Ahead
Whatever you are doing for Turkey Day, it’s always better to plan ahead. Securing a ride ahead of time is usually less expensive than waiting until everyone is leaving to wonder how you will get home.
If you can, avoid long distance travel on Thanksgiving, the day after, or the day before. These are some of the worst days of the year for traffic in many places around the US.
If you are arrested for a DUI on Thanksgiving or any day of the year, you should contact an expert criminal defense attorney with a record of winning cases as soon as possible. Don’t just assume the law will share your “holiday spirt” and go easy on you.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, Murder, and drug crimes.