Sheriff Matt HasselThis time of year, everyone seems to be dusting off old traditions as they begin to celebrate the holiday season. There is, of course, lots of family and friends, complete with turkey and all the fixings. Next comes ugly sweater parties, white elephant gift exchanges, company events, mistletoe and eggnog, and perhaps a Die Hard viewing. Finally, the year concludes with the ball dropping in Times Square.

According to Marshall County Sheriff Matthew Hassel, there is also other, darker traditions to this season: increases in drunk driving and alcohol misuse.

Celebration comes with the holiday season, but too many families have their holiday joy shattered by drunk driving. Traffic-related deaths during the holidays as a result of alcohol-impaired crashes rise significantly. That is especially troubling given that driving is the most popular mode of holiday travel.

Sheriff Hassel says the stats are sobering: Drunk drivers are responsible for 40% of highway deaths that occur during the holiday season, the Wednesday for Thanksgiving to January 2. The spikes in highway travel and drunk driving during this season make for a deadly combination:

  • In 2016, 43.5 million Americans took a road tip over the Thanksgiving holiday and a record-high 103 million people hit the roads between Christmas and New Year’s
  • 16% of adults say they drink more than usual during the holidays
  • 51% of high-risk drunk drivers report feeling they drank more between Thanksgiving and New Year’s compared to the rest of the year

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season and to please help keep our community safe by not drinking and driving