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Be aware of increased DUI, traffic enforcement Thanksgiving week

The holiday season is a time when people celebrate, often with alcohol. High spirits and lack of planning often mean more drunk drivers on the road. That's why officers across the state of Iowa will be engaging in extra enforcement of traffic and DUI laws.

"From our point of view, it is better to get to your destination, even if it may be a little late, than to not get there at all," said a spokesperson for the Fort Madison Police Department.

That applies to everyone and to all kinds of dangerous driving. The state patrol and local police departments will be working together to add more DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols. They will also be watching for distracted driving and lack of seat belt use.

Special focus: 'Blackout Wednesday' and 'Danksgiving'

This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is highlighting two dangerous pseudo-holidays that could increase impaired driving during this holiday weekend.

The first is called "Blackout Wednesday." Essentially, revelers are called to drink until they black out on Thanksgiving Eve. Obviously, this carries grave risks, especially if you drink heavily and get behind the wheel. We urge you to make a safe travel plan before you begin drinking, as alcohol can impair your ability to make a plan and lower your inhibitions.

The second pseudo-holiday is called "Danksgiving." This is merely a call to celebrate Thanksgiving with marijuana. Like alcohol, marijuana can make it harder to come up with a rational idea for travel and lower your inhibitions so you're more likely to engage in dangerous behavior. Therefore, it's crucial to have a safe travel plan in place before you partake.

Call a cab or a Lyft. Take public transportation. Designate a sober driver.

According to NHTSA, more than 800 people died between 2013 and 2017 in alcohol-impaired crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period, which begins on Wednesday and lasts through the weekend. In 2017, more than one out of every three traffic fatalities over the Thanksgiving holiday involved at least one driver who was impaired by alcohol.

If you do get arrested for impaired driving, don't panic. Contact an experienced OWI attorney for help.

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