There’s so much to enjoy about the holidays, and certainly there’s plenty to love about Thanksgiving. Whether your gathering is big or small, it’s a time to come together with your family, express your gratitude for the things you have, and most importantly, gorge yourself on delicious food.
For many residents of Columbia and the greater mid-Missouri area, however, this can be a time of great danger. Thanksgiving and the days surrounding it are notorious for bringing a large uptick of car accidents alongside food and festivities. Missouri in particular is the 7th deadliest state to drive in over Thanksgiving break, according to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Specifically, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving sees an average of 114 car crashes each year, the deadliest day to drive.
There are a few factors in play that make the holidays such a dangerous time to drive. Many people travel to visit family members during the holidays. Statista finds that 54.6 million people traveled across the county for Thanksgiving in 2022, with that number likely rising even higher this year. This certainly correlates with the huge spike in accidents that occur on Thanksgiving Eve: more people on the road driving under pressure begets more accidents.
The second and much more pressing factor, however, is intoxication. Holiday celebrations, especially those that include copious amounts of food, will naturally include alcohol. The National Safety Council has seen a jump in alcohol-related driving fatalities that has steadily increased since 2019. In 2021, 36% of fatal car accidents on Thanksgiving break involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
Thanksgiving is Not the Time to Drink and Drive
Even if you drive while intoxicated and don’t get into a car accident, you could still get into serious trouble. There are two facets to any DWI case: the criminal side and the administrative side. The administrative punishment can seriously cripple your ability to go about your day. As the Missouri Department of Revenue outlines, the officer that charges you with a DWI will also submit administrative paperwork to have your license suspended. You only have 15 days to request a hearing, otherwise you will lose your ability to drive.
The criminal charges and punishments you could face are not exactly pleasant either. For your first/second offense, you are charged with a misdemeanor. You could face not only a license suspension but a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail. Your third offense of driving while intoxicated increases the severity of the charge to a Class E Felony. Any subsequent charges will also be considered felonies. On top of the stigma of a felony charge, you could also face up to four years of prison, a fine of $10,000, and a 10-year license denial.
Got A DWI? Call Chris Miller
This holiday season, we would recommend either arranging to stay with relatives during Thanksgiving or assigning a designated driver for your family beforehand. It’s never worth the risk to drive while you’re under the influence of anything, and especially alcohol. If you’re ever pulled over and facing a DWI, however, give us a call at the Law Office of Chris Miller. We can handle you case with the diligence and attention that you deserve.