You’ve probably heard of Black Friday, but there’s far less fanfare about the night before Thanksgiving. However, this is one of the busiest times on the road, and it’s made increasingly dangerous due to higher rates of alcohol consumption. In fact, Thanksgiving eve has been dubbed by many as “blackout Wednesday.”

Now, law enforcement is aware of these dangers. This leads to more patrol cars on the road and an increase in the number of DUI checkpoints. Here are a few tips that can help keep yourself and family members safe in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Statistics on Traveling on Thanksgiving Eve

As mentioned, the night before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest nights on the road. Young adults are returning home from college on break, and families are traveling across state lines for gatherings. Further, this number seems to be increasing almost every year.

In fact, AAA reports that over 50 million people drove more than 50 miles on this day in 2018. In addition, nearly 2 million of those drivers are estimated to be in Ohio. This means that roughly 90% of Ohio residents traveling for the holidays will do so by car.

More vehicles on the road means that we are more likely to see car accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 500 people are killed in crashes during the Thanksgiving weekend each year. Of these fatal collisions, it is estimated that one-third are caused by drunk drivers.

Note that during the 2018 Thanksgiving weekend, Ohio State Patrol reported that there were 823 crashes and 6 fatalities. Further, there were 502 cases of a driver operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is known as “OVI” in Ohio.

Tips to Avoid Putting Yourself at Risk

Although the numbers may appear staggering, there are steps that you can take to keep your loved ones safe during the holidays.

Travel Earlier in the Week. Make arrangements to travel earlier in the week, if possible. Alternatively, try to leave earlier in the day when there are fewer drunk drivers on the road.

Drive Carefully. Adhere to some basic precautions for safe driving. This would include not speeding, not driving distracted, wearing a seatbelt, and making sure that young children are not in the front seat. If possible, try going on back roads where there may be less traffic.

Figure Out How You’ll Get Home If You Plan on Drinking. You might also consider doing some basic planning in advance of the night ahead. This would involve figuring out how you are going to get home if you plan on drinking. For example, you might consider looking into taxi, rideshare services, public transportation, or work out a designated driver arrangement before the night begins.

Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Most importantly, don’t let your friends get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking. Be aware that sobriety checkpoints are legal in Ohio, and the number of these often increases for the holidays.

Operating Under the Influence in Ohio

Now, we all know that driving under the influence is illegal and dangerous. However, unfortunately, the practice is common in Ohio. By the numbers, within the past 30 days, 2.2% of people in the state reported that they have driven after drinking too much. Further, a national study found that within the past year, this number jumps up to 13%. In other words, 1 in 8 drivers admits to driving while over the legal limit.

Keep in mind that in Ohio it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08%. If you are underage, the limit is 0.02%. Further, if your BAC is over 0.17%, the violation is considered aggravated OVI. The penalties for an OVI in Ohio can include jail time, license suspension, and fines. In addition, you may also be ordered to attend alcohol education and treatment courses and have an interlock device installed in your car.

Note that Ohio is known as an “implied consent” state. This means that you consent to taking a breathalyzer when asked as part of obtaining your license. This includes OVI checkpoints. If you fail to comply, your license may be suspended and you may face a 6-day jail sentence, a 72-hours driver intervention program, and a fine.

Being charged with an OVI can be devastating and seriously impact your life. For that reason, make sure you have a qualified attorney on your side.