West Plains Police Chief Stephen Monticelli

The West Plains Police Department reminds community members, in the interest of public safety and having an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, to refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Travel safe and please do not drink and drive for the protection of yourself, your family and other users of the roadways,” said Chief Stephen Monticelli, adding the department wants to give a special thanks to those  working through the holiday to keep the public safe.

“This Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with West Plains Police Department to keep you safe on the streets,” said Monticelli. “A popular trend, Thanksgiving Eve, or ‘Blackout Wednesday,’ highlights — and even encourages — the heavy consumption of alcohol throughout the long holiday weekend. It’s important to remember that drunk driving is dangerous and illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.

“This year, Thanksgiving Eve falls on Wednesday, Nov. 27, so we’re working hard to get the message out that ‘Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.’”

The NHTSA and its partners are conducting a social media blitz using the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday, Monticelli said, to help deliver lifesaving messages about the dangers of drunk driving and encourage positive actions that can help reduce impaired driving on the roadways.

Crashes related to drunk driving spike during the Thanksgiving holiday season, according to NHTSA: From 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver during the Thanksgiving holiday period, counted from 6 p.m. Wednesday the night before Thanksgiving to 5:59 a.m. the Monday after.

Those numbers, NHTSA notes, make Thanksgiving one of the deadliest holidays to affect the roads. Even one drink can be one too many, officials reminded.

In 2017, more than one out of every three traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday period involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

On average, a citation for driving under the influence can set one person back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates and car towing, officials said.

According to the NHSTA, based on 2010 numbers, the most recent year for which cost data is available, impaired-driving crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually.

CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS SAFELY

The West Plains Police Department offers some tips for preparing for a safe holiday celebration:

- Don’t leave the house without a plan on how to get home safely — once a person starts drinking, he or she likely won’t make good choices.

- Remember that it is never okay to drive impaired. Whether a person has had one alcoholic beverage, an impairing substance, or both, a sober driver should be designated, or plans should be made to use public transportation or a ride sharing service to get home safely.

- If anyone sees an impaired driver on the road, they are urged to contact the West Plains Police Department.

- Have a friend who is about to drive while alcohol or drug impaired? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get him or her home safely.

Officers ask the public to work together to save lives and help keep America’s roads safe.

“Please join us in sharing the lifesaving message Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, and use the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday this holiday weekend,” Monticelli urged.

For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/drunk-driving/buzzed-driving-drunk-driving/thanksgiving-eve.

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