The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is one of the most dangerous times of the year for drivers and pedestrians due to drunk driving.
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Holiday Drunk Driving
The holiday season is a time when thousands of drivers hit the road to visit family and friends, enjoy a scenic road trip, or travel to their favorite fun-filled destination. During the holidays, many people make plans to travel by airplane, train, or bus, but driving is the top choice for most people traveling to nearby locations. Traveling by car provides a way to relax, reduce costs, and enjoy the sights, but it also increases the possibility of getting hit and killed by a drunk driver.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are several holidays where alcohol consumption is common – Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Every year accident reports reflect a spike in traffic injuries and fatalities during these holidays. As a result, law enforcement agencies around the country prepare for a significant rise in DWI arrests. In Minnesota, the holidays present a peak time for criminal defense by a Minneapolis DWI attorney.
The holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day accounts for a high percentage of DWI arrests around the country. According to NHTSA, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period between 2013 and 2017.
Law enforcement agencies around the country gear up for a spike in DWI arrests during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday period. Thanksgiving Eve, known as “Blackout Wednesday,” kicks off the official start of the drunk driving season, which runs through New Year’s Day. The term refers to drunk drivers who “black out” behind the wheel from excessive alcohol consumption. NHTSA reports an average of 45 drunk driving deaths every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that drunk drivers play a role in at least 40% of traffic deaths between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. That’s a 12% increase over the rest of December. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 300 Americans die each year in the handful of days surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. An average of 27 people die each day in December due to drunk-driving crashes. Minnesota DWI attorneys see a significant rise in DWI arrests between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Stay Safe During the Holidays
The holidays are filled with opportunities for social gatherings and festival events, where many people consume alcohol to celebrate. It’s a time when some people who don’t drink often and have a lower tolerance for alcohol tend to have a few drinks and get behind the wheel. It’s also a time when regular drinkers tend to consume more alcohol than normal. Both situations create a recipe for disaster during the holidays when there are more people on the road. In Minnesota, where the holidays also bring snow and ice, the number of drunk driving accidents seen by a DWI attorney are compounded by bad weather.
To avoid drunk driving injuries, fatalities, and DWI arrests during the holidays, law enforcement urges drivers to practice safe driving and follow important safety tips:
- Avoid drinking and driving
- Appoint a designated non-drinking driver
- Give car keys to a designated driver, if consuming alcohol
- Practice defensive driving
- Stay buckled up in the vehicle
- Remain alert of drunk drivers on the road
Avoid DWI Arrests
The best way to avoid a DWI arrest is by not drinking and driving. Anyone who plans to drink and drive faces a potential litany of legal troubles. Any driver caught with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher is guilty of driving under the influence in all 50 states.
In Minnesota, police officers are on high alert for drunk drivers during the holidays. Police are out in force watching for signs of drunk driving such as speeding or driving too slowly; weaving in and out of lanes; driving outside of lane markers; tailgating; and ignoring traffic signals. Minnesota State Patrol officers watch for signs of erratic driving and are allowed to stop suspicious drivers who may be under the influence.
In recent years, Minnesota has cracked down on drunk drivers. A driver who’s arrested for DWI can expect to face fines and legal fees up to $10,000, as well as revocation of driving privileges for one year or longer and time in jail. If a drunk driving accident results in the injury or death of another person, the driver may be charged with DWI vehicular homicide, a felony offense in Minnesota that requires criminal defense by a DWI attorney. If convicted, the driver can face up to $20,000 in fines and up to 10 years behind bars.