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DUIs make weekend one of deadliest on nation’s highways

The consumption of large quantities of alcohol on the night before Thanksgiving has become such a tradition that the unofficial holiday has been dubbed “blackout Wednesday.”

And this year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and local law enforcement entities are working overtime throughout the Thanksgiving weekend with a social media campaign to end the dangerous practice that leads to an uptick in the number of impaired drivers and, statistically, more people killed on the roadways as a result of drug or drugged driving. 

“Drunk driving is a real threat to our community every day, and that threat increased during holidays like Thanksgiving,” said Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann. “Blackout Wednesday is a dangerous trend. Driving under the influence is dangerous and illegal, and no one should ever take the risk.”

To combat the epidemic, the social media campaign aims to educate the public about the alarmingly high number of people on the road while inebriated for the Thanksgiving holiday – statistically, according the NHTSA, more people are killed by drunk drivers during the Thanksgiving holiday than at Christmas time – and what to do if somebody spots or suspects a drunk driver is on the road. 

According to statistics collected about traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, one in three involved the use of alcohol. From 2013 through 2017, more than 800 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes over the holiday weekend – making it one of the deadliest weekends on American roadways for accidents involving drivers under the influence. 

The campaign also points out that driving under the influence is not limited to just alcohol, either. 

While California has legalized the sale, possession, and use of recreational cannabis, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis – or any other mind-altering substance, including those which have been prescribed by a doctor – remains illegal. And while the data is still coming in, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released preliminary reports indicating that in states where recreational cannabis use was legalized, the number of car accidents increased by a noticeable margin. 

Anybody that believes they may have spotted a driver under the influence is encouraged to contact their local police department – the Manteca Police at 209.239.8401, Lathrop Police Services at 209.468.4400, and the Ripon Police Department at 209.599.2012 – or by calling 911 from any mobile phone. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.