Drunken drivers a big problem on holiday

Thanksgiving typically doesn’t top the list in Augusta as the worst holiday for drinking and driving, but nationwide it’s No. 2.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drinking violations will jump 54 percent on Thanksgiving Day, second only to the New Year’s holiday, which sees a 62 percent increase.

New Year’s also tops the list for Augusta, but it’s typically followed by July Fourth or Memorial Day, depending on which day the holidays fall on.

Although not in the top three, Thanksgiving remains a problem for officers.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said Thanksgiving’s permanent position on Thursday contributes to the higher numbers.

“It’s such a long holiday period,” he said. “It starts on Wednesday and usually goes until Sunday.”

More travelers only add to potential problems.

Georgia State Patrol Trooper 1st Class Matthew MacDonald said most troopers spend their time moving from one crash to another.

“With so many cars on the road, it’s harder to focus on the impaired drivers,” he said. “On the interstates it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic. When you have that it’s harder to see the violations.”

On average, more than a dozen people die and a thousand are injured over the Thanksgiving holiday in Georgia, according to the Department of Transportation.

“It’s a shame,” Gay said, because driving under the influence is easily avoidable on this holiday.

On Thanksgiving, unlike other holidays, people are generally drinking at homes, where they could easily stay over or find a designated driver, police said.

“We just ask that they stay there,” Gay said.

MacDonald said troopers have seen wrecks in which entire families were lost because they drank together and then drove together.

Troopers and deputies across the Augusta area plan to be out in full force.