Law Enforcement Ramps Up For 'Blackout Wednesday'

Wednesday, November 25th 2020, 10:15 pm
By: News On 6, Kristen Weaver

TULSA, Okla. -

The night before Thanksgiving is called Blackout Wednesday: One of the busiest nights of the year for binge drinking.

Law enforcement say they are ramping up patrols in case those people drinking decide to drive. Even though people have to go home from bars at 11 instead of 2 a.m. like a normal Thanksgiving eve, the sheriff's office says they are still being proactive when it comes to stopping drunk drivers. On the night before Thanksgiving, old friends and family reunite, often with a drink at their favorite hometown bar.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said "Blackout Wednesday" is one of the deadliest nights of the year for DUI crashes.

"Surprisingly, we'll see more DUI arrests on Thanksgiving than a New Year's Eve," said Casey Roebuck.

The national highway safety data said 800 people died in alcohol-related crashes on Blackout Wednesday between 2013 and 2017. Casey Roebuck with the Tulsa County sheriff's Office says their deputies have to plan to stop impaired drivers.

"The goal here is to get those drivers off the road before they can hurt themselves or another innocent motorist," said Roebuck.

Roebuck said with bars now closing at 11 p.m. in the state, their deputies will be looking for drunk drivers earlier. But she says they expect many people to be drinking and driving from house parties because of the bar and restaurant curfew.

"We also could have people going from house to house to visit friends. We'll be watching for them too," Roebuck said.

"We know we'll have troopers on the highways to make sure we're visible and respond if something were to happen," said Mark Southall.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Mark Southall says in 2018, there were five deadly DUI related crashes in Oklahoma during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and there were two last year.

"If we can bring those numbers down to 0, troopers will be sleeping pretty well," Southall said.

Roebuck said grant money will be paying deputies to come in from off duty to work DUI shifts. She urges people to just get an Uber or Lyft.