There’s a chill and the scent of woodsmoke in the air in southern Indiana. That means that the holidays will soon be upon us.

For most, it’s a time to gather with friends and family, to give thanks and celebrate together. Many of those celebrations involve alcohol, and that’s where things can start getting dicey.

‘Tis the season

Indiana residents may be unaware that this segment of the year — the days between the Thanksgiving holiday and New Year’s Day — sees a major uptick in OWI arrests, as well as charges for other alcohol-related matters. Read on to learn more holiday drinking data, as well as ways that you can avoid becoming a holiday statistic.

While OWI charges are serious consequences of drinking and driving, they are far from the only repercussions you could face. Did you know that:

  • During the aforementioned period, a full 40 percent of highway accidents involve drunken drivers
  • 51 percent of drunken drivers admit to consuming more alcohol now than other times during the year
  • During this period, there are as many as three times the number of traffic fatalities as other times of the year

Watch out for “Blackout Wednesday”

Everyone has heard of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving when shoppers descend en masse on the retail outlets to get the biggest holiday bargains. But Blackout Wednesday — otherwise known as Thanksgiving Eve — is one of the biggest days of the year for imbibing alcoholic beverages, surpassing both St. Patrick’s Day and New Years Eve for alcohol consumption rates.

Some regions even list it as one of the top nights for drunk driving arrests in their jurisdiction. Part of the reason is that people tend to head for their home turf this time of year. They often gather at neighborhood watering holes they frequented from their college or post-high school years. They meet up and quaff more than a few cold ones with friends, having the next day off from work.

Then, too, Thanksgiving can be an anxiety-producing holiday for some family members. Tension among relatives and in-laws can cause people to reach for the bottle once-too-often, resulting in an OWI arrest.

Sober holiday alternatives

There’s nothing wrong with planning a sober Thanksgiving celebration. If you don’t want to go 100 percent teetotal, make sure that there are plenty of nonalcoholic beverage options available to your holiday guests.

A good host also knows not to let inebriated friends drive home drunk. Either call them an Uber or pull out the sofa-bed and let them sleep it off safely.

Avoid DUI arrests

Realize that law enforcement officers pull out all stops around the holidays. Expect OWI checkpoints and an increased police presence on the highways. If you get pulled over, preserve your right not to incriminate yourself and mount a stalwart defense to the charge of drunk driving.