It’s Thanksgiving week, which means the holidays are officially in full swing. You might have a few days off. You may have big plans to knock out your Christmas shopping list. And for most, you’ll be piling your family in the car to drive to Grandma’s house where the entire family will gather around the dinner table to enjoy recipes that have been handed down from one generation to another.
Yes – Thanksgiving is all about tradition. Unfortunately, even the best Thanksgiving traditions can go sideways. For example, if you plan to participate in an annual tradition of Blackout Wednesday, you may find yourself experiencing something way worse than a hangover: a DWI charge.
With that in mind, we’d like to remind you to stay safe this Thanksgiving, and not to drink and drive. However, if you do end up in trouble, we’re here to help. Call us today at (919) 672-8330 to learn more.
What is Blackout Wednesday?
Blackout Wednesday is the night before Thanksgiving, often celebrated amongst friends and out-of-town family members who may not see each other often, full of pre-holiday parties and binge drinking that can lead to over-intoxication and bad decision-making. Since most people have Thanksgiving Day off, why not “celebrate?” Other names for this unofficial holiday include (Black Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, Wacky Wednesday, Whiskey Wednesday, Big Wednesday and a variety of other names. And while we don’t recommend you go so far as to “blackout” and suffer a form of memory loss due to binge drinking, having a good time in most cases is legal. Until it isn’t.
Studies have shown that Blackout Wednesday is the top drunk driving night of the year in some parts of the country. As such, you may find that the Durham Police Department has increased patrolling of local roads and highways to catch drunk drivers. You may even find sobriety checkpoints and unmarked police cars blending in with the normal traffic to prevent accidents.
Of course, while this additional presence seems noble, it also means that some police officers may employ illegal or unconstitutional methods to make a Thanksgiving DWI arrest. If you are arrested, ask for an attorney right away. If you take steps to protect yourself in the beginning, it will help your case in the long run.
Thanksgiving DWI Statistics
Authorities have known for years that Thanksgiving weekend is among the deadliest weekends of the year, and there are a number of reasons why. For example, cooler temperatures often create weather-related hazards that cause car accidents without the presence of drinking. There are also more drivers on the road and an uptick in the number of heart attacks. However, the biggest cause of death over Thanksgiving is drunk driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2017, there were 23,551 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation. Of the fatal accidents, almost half of those were not wearing safety belts, and another 40% involved a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.
What are the Penalties for Drinking and Driving in Durham, NC?
The best way to stay safe is to avoid driving after consuming alcohol. Period. You’re legally allowed to have a drink on Thanksgiving Eve, but please do so responsibly by doing the following:
- Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before your first drink.
- Use public transportation, a taxi, rideshare service (such as Uber or Lyft), or your community’s sober ride program to get home safely.
- Crash at a friend’s house (within walking distance).
If you do get charged with a DWI this Thanksgiving holiday, the penalties can be stiff. The moment you are arrested, NC’s Civil Revocation Law requires a driver to hand over his or her license when charged with a DWI. For a first-time offender, the suspension will likely be for 30 days, but there are some instances in which limited driving privileges can be granted. Either way, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney to help you determine if you’re eligible for limited driving privileges as well as to help navigate through the license revocation process.
Some of the other typical penalties include:
- Up to 10 years of jail time
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Lifelong ignition interlock requirement. For repeat offenders, you may be required to install a device in your car that will confirm that you have not had any alcohol (via breathalyzer test) for the car to even turn on.
- The list goes on…
Being accused of DWI at any time can alter a person’s life, but especially during the holidays. If you are facing alcohol-related charges in Durham, NC, you need someone willing to protect you. Kevin E. Jones has a proven track record of success defending clients against DWI charges. Call (919) 672-8330 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options.