TOWSON, MD (November 20, 2018) –– The day of frenzied shopping that follows Thanksgiving is commonly referred to as Black Friday. But, in recent years, some have started referring to the night before Thanksgiving as ‘Blackout Wednesday’ or ‘Drinksgiving’ because of the heavy alcohol consumption or binge drinking done by college students and others, home for the holiday and reuniting with friends and family at bars, restaurants or homes.
“While ‘Blackout Wednesday’ or ‘Drinksgiving’ may be clever ‘buzz’ words, there’s nothing clever about being buzzed or drunk and getting behind the wheel,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affair at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers also need to remember that prescription, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs can impair the ability to drive safely, as well. Combining any of these drugs with alcohol can further increase the impairment factor.”
From 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died nationwide in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6:00 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday), making it one of the deadliest holidays on our roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A 2017 poll of Maryland drivers commissioned by AAA Mid-Atlantic found that 85 percent of drivers feel that people driving after drinking alcohol is a somewhat to very serious threat to their personal safety.
A motorist is deemed driving while intoxicated (DWI) when the motorist’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at a level of .08 percent or higher, while a motorist whose BAC level is .07 percent is determined to be driving under the influence (DUI).
A driver can be charged and convicted with driving while impaired at lower levels. Both infractions may result in points against the driver’s license, loss of license, large monetary fines, jail time, as well as attorney and court costs, among other penalties. Visit http://www.mva.maryland.gov/drivers/impaired/maryland-impaired-driving-laws.htm for more information regarding Maryland’s Impaired Driving laws.
Maryland State Police, along with local law enforcement, will be increasing patrols to foster safe roadways beginning Wednesday night and throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with a special eye out for impaired drivers. Last Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 22-26), troopers made 109 DUI arrests, according to a news release from the Maryland State Police.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding anyone headed out Wednesday night or throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and planning to drink:
- Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Don’t risk it.
- Make a plan ahead of time to have a sober, designated driver.
- If you don’t have a designated driver, call a friend or family member, taxi or ride share service such as Uber or Lyft to get you home safely.
- Never let family or friends drive if they have had too much alcohol to drink.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, call law enforcement at 911. Visit ReportADrunkDriver.com for tips to help spot an impaired driver on the road and the information needed by police when reporting a drunk driver.
Also consider downloading NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store. The free app allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so the user can be picked up.
“It is never OK to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you are buzzed or drunk. The risk of injury or death to yourself, passengers and others on the roads is not worth it, especially when there are other ways to get home safely,” added Averella. “AAA Mid-Atlantic wants everyone to safely enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their friends and family and not have to deal with a senseless, preventable tragedy caused by impaired driving.”
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to over 59 million members nationwide and more than 975,000 members in Maryland. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit AAA.com.