MI Liquor Control Urges Sober Driving Over Thanksgiving

Now alternately being referred to as “Drinksgiving, Drunksgiving or Blackout Wednesday,” this Thanksgiving Eve night has become the most notorious night of the year for club night as extended family members and friends return to the home front for the big feast tomorrow.

Recognizing that there will be an expected heavy consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants tonight, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission is urging everyone to celebrate responsibly and also tips and encouragement for those establishments with liquor licenses on how to avoid trouble and the potential loss of their license.

Thanksgiving Eve, the Wednesday before the annual celebration, has become one of the deadliest nights on Michigan roads. As a result the Liquor Control Commission is urging people to not only celebrate responsibly, but to avoid binge drinking, refrain from drinking and driving, and getting home with a designated driver, public transportation or a ride share.

Liquor licensees are urged to always check IDs to ensure patrons’ legal drinking age, serve responsibly and know the signs of intoxication. They remind that buzzed driving is drunk driving.

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Pat Gagliardi, Chair of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission says, “Drunk driving is a real threat to every Michigan community especially during holidays like Thanksgiving,” and adds, “Driving under the influence is not only illegal, it’s deadly, and no one should ever take that risk. If you are under the influence of any impairing substance, hand the keys to a sober friend instead of driving yourself home.”

In 2018, there were 11 fatalities in Michigan during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6 pm Thanksgiving Eve through midnight the following Sunday). Out of the 11 fatalities, four involved alcohol – three killing the driver, according to the Office of Highway Safety Planning at the Michigan State Police.

To help keep people safe on the streets, Liquor Control is joining with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to spread the message that drunk driving is dangerous and illegal, period. This Thanksgiving Eve, they and their partners are joining in a social media blitz featuring the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday to help deliver lifesaving messages into the public conversation and encourage positive actions that can help reduce impaired driving on the roadways.

MLCC offers the state’s liquor licensees and their patrons additional tips to help ensure a safe Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Consumer Tips for a Safe Night Out

  • Plan a safe way home before you leave the house; once you start drinking you likely won’t make good choices.
  • Designate a sober driver; or plan to use public transportation or ride sharing to get home safely.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911 to reach law enforcement.
  • Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Tips for Liquor Licensees

  • Ask for valid identification to verify a patron’s age is 21 years or older before selling or serving alcohol to them.
  • Serve responsibly to ensure that no one becomes intoxicated in your business.
  • Do not sell or serve alcoholic beverages to individuals who appear intoxicated and do not allow an intoxicated person to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises.
  • Intoxicated individuals who enter your establishment are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol.
  • Know your establishment’s capacity level to avoid overcrowding that can lead to altercations and obstructed exits which are safety and fire hazards.
  • Maintain order and control of the premises through constant observance of customers and situations.
  • Establish a policy and procedure for staff to report suspected illegal activity to management.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period, making it one of the deadliest holidays. In fact, during 2017 alone, more than one out of every three traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday period involved an alcohol-impaired driver.