If you think you might get a bit tipsy this Turkey Day, don't get behind the wheel. Law enforcement agencies are once again set to enforce Thanksgiving DUI checkpoints from coast to coast.
The enhanced DUI enforcement coincides with a new study that predicts Thanksgiving traffic accidents nationwide. More than 43,000 people will be hurt on roadways this holiday weekend, and more than 400 will be killed, according to a statistical analysis by the National Safety Council.
The number of estimated fatalities in 2011 is down about 19% from the previous six-year average, the NSC says.
It's common knowledge by now that DUI checkpoints are legal if conducted in a reasonable way -- for example, police must have a neutral formula for stopping motorists. Courts have upheld DUI checkpoints, explaining their intrusiveness is outweighed by public safety concerns.
The anti-DUI message may be out there, but the problem persists. Research released in August by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed:
- The most dangerous time to be on the road is between midnight and 3 a.m. One in four people killed in a DUI-related crash died between these hours, NHTSA says.
- The next-worst times of day with high DUI crash rates were 9 p.m. to midnight, and 3 to 6 a.m.
- When drivers between 21 and 24 years old were involved in a fatal crash, alcohol was a factor in about one-third of all incidents.
In addition to Thanksgiving DUI checkpoints, police will also be focusing on seat belt violations. This is particularly true in five Midwestern states -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio -- where NHTSA has announced a "Click It or Ticket" campaign that runs through Sunday night.
Of course you should also heed NHTSA's advice on avoiding Thanksgiving DUI crashes. The agency suggests you may want to designate a sober driver, call a taxi, and even snatch car keys from the hands of your impaired friends.
- AAA Projects 42.5 Million Americans Will Travel This Thanksgiving, Four Percent More Than Last Year (AAA.com)
- DUI Checkpoints (FindLaw)
- State DUI Laws (FindLaw)