‘Blackout Wednesday’ patrols looking for drunk drivers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Everyone is back home for the holidays and looking for somewhere to meet up. For most of us, that reunion ends up at a bar with a lot of drinking.

Extra police patrols are out tonight to make sure no one is drinking and driving.

Meanwhile, bartenders get ready for the big party.

“It compares to St. Patrick’s Day and New Years Eve,” said Adam Szar, general manager of Arooga’s in downtown Harrisburg. “Those are the top three, and Thanksgiving Eve will probably be the busiest, the busiest without a doubt.”

Ever heard of Blackout Wednesday? Well, that’s what they call Thanksgiving Eve.

Everyone is back in town, reuniting over drink specials – or two or three.

“On the holidays, they just let loose a little bit more,” Szar said. “So for that, we’re going to increase our security.”

There is more manpower on the roads, too. Every police department we talked to is sending out extra patrols and DUI forces.

“Call that friend, get that designated driver, use a ride-share service,” Hampden Township police Chief Steve Junkin said, “because if you drink and drive, you’re going to get caught.”

If you’re caught driving drunk a first time in Pennsylvania, it’s six months probation and a $300 fine off the bat. If your blood-alcohol level is above .10 percent – about five drinks for most people – the penalty is up to $5,000 and six months in prison. Second and third offenses cost more money, and prison time goes up to 10 years if you kill someone on the road.

“It’s an expensive ordeal,” said Patrick Lauer, an attorney who helps people fight DUI charges. “It’s an emotional ordeal. No one wants to be handcuffed, no one wants to be in a booking center, no one wants to lose their job.”

On the other hand, an Uber probably won’t cost more than 25 bucks.

It’s a good decision tonight, and another reason to be thankful tomorrow.

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