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Law enforcement prepares for increase in drunk drivers ahead of Thanksgiving

The night before Thanksgiving has been dubbed "Blackout Wednesday," which is when some decide to drink excessively.

MOLINE, Ill. — Law enforcement officials on both sides of the Mississippi River are keeping a closer eye on roads ahead of Thanksgiving this year. 

That's because some participate in "Blackout Wednesday," which is when friends gather and excessively drink before the official day of thankfulness. 

With more drinks comes a greater chance of someone driving drunk. Both the Iowa State Patrol and Illinois State Police are increasing their patrols Wednesday night to combat the uptick in potential drunk drivers. 

"We all partner with the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau to bring safety to the forefront of people traveling this weekend," said Sgt. Alex Dinkla with the Iowa State Patrol. "It is one of the busiest holiday travel times that we see."

Dinkla noted that 303 lives have been lost on Iowa roads in 2022. The importance of not increasing that number is very important as the holidays roll in. 

"All too often, we can probably remember somebody that was killed in our area from a traffic crash," Dinkla said. "That was one of the hardest things that we as law enforcement officers are tasked to do each and every day, is to go out and work our roads, keep them safe."

Trooper Jason Wilson with the Illinois State Police emphasized the importance of having a designated driver. 

"The last thing we want to do is bring tragedy to somebody's family by having a knock on their door two o'clock in the morning to let them know that what's supposed to be a family fun day, a loving day, ends up being a day that they have to come to grips that they no longer have a loved one in their life," Wilson said. 

"Those words are hard to come out of our mouths because we know that is going to affect somebody forever," Dinkla said, echoing Wilson. "We can't stress enough, please, get to your destination safely obey that speed limit, put that phone down. And please welcome that seatbelt, that little piece of fabric in buckling that seatbelt could save your life, or by you telling somebody in your vehicle to buckle up could save somebody else's life. And if you have to drink, please drive sober or find that designated driver."

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