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Holiday Season Marks Beginning of Dangerous Driving Period for Fatal Alcohol-Related Crashes

The extended Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most heavily traveled times of the year; and Thanksgiving Eve is known as one of the busiest nights for bars and restaurants. Social binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking all occur at high rates. The Department of Liquor and the Montgomery County Police Department are reminding residents that these high-risk activities, combined with the sheer number of drivers on the road, make it an especially dangerous holiday for alcohol-related collisions.

The DLC and MCPD also are asking parents to emphasize to their underage children that underage drinking can lead to serious consequences.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that from 2012 to 2016, drunk driving crashes killed more than 800 people, nationwide, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends. If you choose to celebrate with alcohol, please take advantage of the many options for getting home safely,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger. “Plan out how you will get home before you start drinking. Officers will be running checkpoints and saturation patrols over the holiday and weekend that follows, looking to arrest drunk drivers.”

Members of the Montgomery County Police Alcohol Holiday Task Force will be devoting their full time and attention to detecting alcohol-related offenses this holiday season.

Each year, more than 20,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence offenses in Maryland. Penalties for even a first-time DUI conviction in Maryland could include jail time, significant fines, mandatory ignition interlock, and license suspension.

Underage drinking is also a major concern on Thanksgiving Eve. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control reports that excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year. Underage drinkers often obtain alcohol from older siblings or their friends who are home from college or visiting for the holidays.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, parents and adults have a big influence on children’s decisions not to drink. For parents, making their disapproval of underage drinking very clear is one of the most important steps in preventing it.

Information about how to help prevent underage drinking, through communication and creating an action plan, is available from the federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking website.

“Reducing underage drinking and service to intoxicated individuals are priorities for us,” said Kathie Durbin, division chief of licensure, regulation and education within the DLC. “Through education, we remind businesses licensed to sell and serve alcohol to be especially vigilant during the holiday season. Checking ID’s, offering nonalcoholic choices and encouraging safe-ride programs are just some of the ways businesses can help keep our community safe.”

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