CARMEL, N.Y. -- Thanksgiving is a chance for family and friends to get together and share a meal or watch the big game, but there is also something insidious lurking around holiday time – drinking and driving, says a Putnam group dedicated to helping teens avoid risky behaviors.
According to Bruce Kelly, a coalition coordinator for Putnam Communities That Care, the night before Thanksgiving has become so associated with binge imbibing that it’s now known as “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving.”
In some cities, it has become a more popular partying night than New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day.
Few people work on Thanksgiving, most college kids come back home to celebrate with their families, and high school students also have a long weekend.
When they reunite with friends over beers or the harder stuff in local bars, what should have been a joyous occasion all too often turns into senseless tragedy, Kelly said.
The CTC is working with local law enforcement in Putnam to put the word out that common sense can prevent drunken driving accidents, assaults and vandalism.
Local police and the county Sheriff’s Department will be stepping up patrols and keeping an eye on watering holes to make sure they are not serving underage people, Kelly said.
Local taxi companies are also gearing up for the big day.
According to Ruth Ayala-Quezada, owner of Carmel Taxi & Car Services, "Blackout Wednesday" is almost "as bad as New Year's Eve."
Ayala-Quezada,, who promotes the "Don't Drink and Drive" message on social media, said she plans to add extra drivers and have the service available all night Wednesday and until 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
"Even if they do the right thing and call a taxi, they still have to go back to the bar, or wherever, to pick up their cars," Ayala-Quezada explained.
She also runs Mahopac Taxi and Cold Spring Taxi.
To reach Carmel Taxi & Car Services, call (845) 225-5555.
Last year, the CTC partnered with law enforcement to educate tavern owners and to encourage them to ask for two IDs, especially if the patron is from out of state, he said.
Even if the person can produce one ID, which can be faked, he or she often can’t come up with another.
Kelly said he plans to go on a “ride-along” with police that night to observe the goings-on.
The steps to keeping celebrations are simple, he said:
- Folks over 21 going out to party should have a designated driver or call a taxi (or Uber car) if they plan to drink.
- Tavern owners should be diligent about checking IDs and should cut off customers and call a taxi, if they appear to be intoxicated.
- Parents should not only talk to their kids about the dangers of getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk, they should also set an example about being “smart,” Kelly said.