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Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of the deadliest season for drunk driving

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Updated November 21, 2018 02:00 PM EST

Editor's note: This story originally published November 22, 2017.

Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for for drunk driving and alcohol-related fatalities.

In a study of frequent DUI offenders there were 44 percent more cases of drinking and driving on Thanksgiving weekend than any other time of the year.

About 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during the holidays resulted from drunk drivers compared to 28 percent the rest of the year.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, 2.3 times more people than usual die in alcohol-related crashes.

Whiskey Pour

According to Alcohol Monitoring Systems spokesperson Alison Betts, the findings highlight how closely drinking is tied to Thanksgiving.

"We monitor people who have been court-ordered not to drink. They know they'll get caught, and they know they'll face serious consequences, including jail. So you can just imagine the rate of drinking for those who aren't being monitored," says Betts.

Drunk driving is expected to start increasing on Thanksgiving Eve, known as "Blackout Wednesday" or "Drinksgiving" in many cities.

The terms are starting to trend on social media, with bars advertising drink specials.

The start of the five-day holiday weekend means that many people don't have to worry about heading into the office the next day, and it is a particularly high-risk drinking day for college students home from school.

"We work with criminal justice agencies around the country," Betts notes, "and many of them say that drunk driving spikes as much on Thanksgiving Eve as on better-known 'drinking' holidays."

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