The Holiday DUI Season

This week the holiday season kicks off and lasts through the New Year.  The holidays mean more parties and travel as many of us celebrate with friends and family.  Between Thanksgiving and the end of New Year’s weekend is also “DUI Season”, DUI arrests are at a high point for the year.

Thanksgiving Eve, sometimes referred to as  “Black Wednesday”, is unofficially considered the busiest bar night of the year, which means it’s also the biggest night of the year for drunk driving.  Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled holiday period of the year with almost 90% of those traveling doing so by car.  This combined with the busiest bar night of the year is a deadly mix.

Federal traffic safety data shows that the daily death toll from drunk driving during the holiday season is significantly more than the rest of the year.   According to NHTSA between 2001-2005 an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day in the U.S. as a result of crashes involving an alcohol impaired driver.  That number increases to 45 per day during the Christmas period and jumps to 54 per day over New Year’s holiday.

Another report shows that between 1998 and 2008 there was an average of 572 deaths annually on U.S. highways during the Thanksgiving holiday, making it the most deadly four-day holiday period on American roads.  36% of those deaths were alcohol related which is an average of 51 per day.  The numbers are so high due to the increased number of cars on the road and the unusual distances driven to share the holiday with family and friends.   The National Safety Commission blames speeding and tired and/or sleepy drivers, as well as those who have imbibed, for the high number of deaths.

In addition to an increase in sobriety check points, NHTSA will be running its Holiday Season Impaired Driving Prevention “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” from November 27 – December 11, 2011.

Their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign will run from December 16, 2011 – January 2, 2012

For more information on these programs visit:

As you spend time with family and friends this Thanksgiving, please take special care during your travels. 

A copy of the NHTSA statistical analysis, “Fatalities Related to Alcohol-Impaired Driving During the Christmas and New Year’s Day Holiday Periods,” can be viewed here.