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From 'Blackout Wednesday" to 'Danksgiving': Be safe this holiday

Every year, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issue campaigns to fight holiday drunk driving. The DOT also releases funds to be used for extra law enforcement on holiday weekends, including Thanksgiving, when drunk driving is common. You should expect extra DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols this week.

We always recommend making a safe travel plan before you begin drinking or using drugs. Drunk driving accidents are at the highest rates around the holidays as people celebrate and partake in more alcohol than usual. At the same time, car travel is at its highest around Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. It can be a dangerous mix.

Plan ahead. If you expect you might become intoxicated, don't wait until you're drunk or stoned before securing a safe ride home. Designate a driver, call a Lyft or a taxi, or use public transportation. Alcohol and drugs can reduce your capacity to make good decisions while increasing the likelihood that you will give in to impulse.

Underground pseudo-holidays may encourage dangerous behavior

This year, however, the government is particularly concerned about people who intentionally plan to over-indulge. Some in our culture have designated the day before Thanksgiving as "Blackout Wednesday" in order to encourage binge drinking over the long holiday weekend.

Binge drinking can be very dangerous, and it certainly isn't something you should do before driving. NHTSA strongly urges people to boycott this event. If you do plan to drink, however, you should make a plan for transportation if an emergency arises.

Another one of these "pseudo-holidays" that some are said celebrate at this time of year is "Danksgiving." This is an occasion to indulge in marijuana. It is illegal to consume marijuana in Tennessee, but some will indulge nonetheless. It's crucial to make safe transportation plans ahead of time. As with alcohol, marijuana can inhibit good decision-making, limiting your options once you're under the influence. Driving while under the influence of marijuana can get you charged with DUI.

We hope that you will avoid these "pseudo-holidays" altogether or make safe travel plans with a sober driver, car service or bus. If you do end up arrested for DUI, contact an experienced attorney right away for advice and representation. A lawyer can often help minimize the negative consequences of a DUI charge.

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Chattanooga, TN 37402-2913

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