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Montgomery County Activates ‘Holiday Task Force’ to Detect Impaired Drivers with Sobriety Checkpoints and Saturation Patrols Through Jan. 13

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) and the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) have activated a "Holiday Task Force" to detect impaired drivers. Considering the start of the holiday season typically sees an increase in the number of fatal alcohol-related crashes, MCPD will establish sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period.

As part of Montgomery County's Vision Zero effort to prevent death and injury on its roadways, the County annually implements a Holiday Task Force in which police officers from multiple agencies devote time and attention to detecting impaired drivers. The Holiday Task Force began on Nov. 8 and will operate through Jan. 13.

The extended Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most heavily traveled times of the year and the evening before Thanksgiving historically is one of the busiest nights for bars and restaurants, with high drinking rates. MCDOT and MCPD remind residents that high-risk activities, combined with the sheer number of drivers on the road, make it an especially dangerous time for alcohol-related collisions.  

“Unfortunately, impaired driving is a real threat to our community, and that threat increases during holidays like Thanksgiving,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “The Wednesday before Thanksgiving—Thanksgiving Eve—is an especially high-risk night for impaired driving. If you choose to drink, plan out a safe ride home beforehand. Every day, about 37 people die nationally from impaired driving crashes. That is one person killed every 39 minutes. In Montgomery County alone, there were 291 impaired drivers arrested during the 2022 Holiday Task Force. Hurting yourself, and potentially others, driving while intoxicated will not only ruin the holidays, but your entire life. Enjoy the holidays, but please, drive sober.”

The night before Thanksgiving is especially dangerous as it has been dubbed “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving.” These nicknames have come to describe a cultural phenomenon in which friends gather the night before the holiday for drinks, and as a result, drunk driving-related crashes increase.

“This year, AAA estimates that over 49 million Americans will travel by car over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “A larger number of people on the road, coupled with higher drinking rates, makes for a more dangerous travel period. The fact that 31 percent of all our roadway fatalities involve drunk drivers is staggering. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous for everyone on our roads.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 190 people were killed during the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, through 5:59 a.m. Monday, Nov. 29). Additionally, more than four times as many drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired during nighttime than during the day. 

Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Every year, more than 10,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Maryland. Penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Maryland could include jail time, significant fines and license points, mandatory ignition interlock and license suspension.  

“As we enter the holiday season, the Montgomery County Police Holiday Task Force is taking measures to enhance road safety. Our officers will be conducting sobriety checkpoints across Montgomery County,” said Police Chief Marcus Jones. “I urge everyone to prioritize the safety of themselves and others by refraining from drinking and driving. Plan ahead, whether it's designating a driver, utilizing public transportation or opting for a ride-share service. Let's work together to ensure a safe and joyful holiday season for everyone on our roads.”

Drivers can find a listing of local safe rides on the County’s Vision Zero website here

The County is asking parents to emphasize to youth under age 21 that underage drinking can lead to serious consequences. Information about how to help prevent underage drinking, through communication and creating an action plan, is available from the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking website

For more information on MCDOT programs and services visit, follow @MCDOTNow on XFacebook and Instagram and subscribe to MCDOT’s “Go Montgomery!” newsletter

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Release ID: 23-516
Media Contact: Rebecca Mellema 202-774-7371
Categories: Transportation