Beginning Nov. 21, several local law enforcement agencies will step up patrols and be on the lookout for impaired drivers in Washtenaw County on and around the Thanksgiving Day Holiday weekend. The special traffic enforcement period takes place through Nov. 25.
Officers from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, University of Michigan Department of Public Safety, Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety, Saline City Police Department, and the Northfield Township Police Department will work more 100 hours in Washtenaw County designated for drunken driving enforcement.
The traffic enforcement is paid by the federal traffic safety funds administrated by the Office of Highway Safety Planning.
Alcohol-involved crashes accounted for 42 percent of all fatal crashes in Washtenaw County in 2011.
According to Sheriff Jerry Clayton, alcohol/drug impairment remains a devastating traffic safety and public health problem.
"The goal of the traffic enforcement is removing impaired drivers from behind the wheel of a car which will reduce their ability to hurt themselves or others," the sheriff's office said in a press release.
Sgt. Keith Flores said in Dexter, deputies don't typically see an increase in drunken driving arrests during Thanksgiving.
"The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is like any other Friday or Saturday in town," he said. "We do see some impaired drivers, but the increase is minimal."
Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth said the department is not planning to increase patrols for the holiday weekend.
"Business owners are pretty good about monitoring drinking, and they contact us if they notice erratic driving or other problems," he said. "It's a real community effort with the police department."
Dexter's Pub owner Peter Theocharakis said typically the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is busy at the restaurant.
"A lot of people come in from out of town to see friends and family, and we usually do pretty good with sales," he said.
This year, the pub will offer specials on beer and $3 margaritas in conjunction with its "Mexican Night" dinner menu.
In Michigan, a motorist can be arrested for drunk driving with a .08 blood alcohol content or higher. A drunk-driving conviction carries with it an assortment of penalties, including court costs and fines, increased car insurance rates, legal fees and $2,000 in driver responsibilities fees.