Cops, bars, gear up for Thanksgiving weekend

The night before Thanksgiving is often called the biggest bar night of the year, which is one reason why police will be out in force during the entire holiday weekend.

Michigan State Police have announced their largest ever Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE) in an effort to make area roads and highways safer in what they say is the second deadliest holiday in Michigan for traffic crashes.

MSP district commander Capt. Monica Yesh said starting Wednesday, troopers across the state will conduct high visibility enforcement, focusing on impaired driving, seat belt use, careless driving and speeding.

“It will be hard not to see the Michigan State Police at work” during the Thanksgiving weekend, she said.

According to the State Police, there were 12 traffic-related fatalities on Michigan roads and highways for the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend, a 30-percent increase over the nine fatalities reported the year before.

Bar operators say they got the message.

While bar owners want their customers to have fun, they are also mindful about making sure no one drinks too much if they have to get behind the wheel for the ride home.

Frank Sgroi, owner of three Dooleys Irish Taverns in Macomb County, said while the turnout is high on Thanksgiving Eve, attendance actually is on the decline.

“Years ago, you’d see lines of people out the door,” Sgroi said. “That’s no longer the case. There’s been a lot more attention to the dangers or drinking and driving, so a lot of people stay home now if they intend to party.”

At Roger’s Roost in Sterling Heights, servers are certified in TIPS the (Training for Intervention Procedures) program that trains them to recognize alcohol-related problems, according to general manager Carl Louis Schmidt. He said waitresses and door staff monitor customers throughout the night and will take steps to cut off anyone who has had too much to drink.

Of course, there is one sure way to avoid any trouble — don’t drive after you’ve consumed any amount of alcohol. That’s the message from Southfield-based criminal attorney Neil Rockind.

Rockind said while Michigan lacks reliable public transportation, there is the Uber ridesharing service and plenty of taxis available. A designated driver is also a good idea to avoid being arrested for drunken driving, he said.

If a driver is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, their words and actions can be used against them by the police, Rockind said in a news release.

“The police don’t like it, but it is legally acceptable for individuals who are pulled over to avoid incriminating themselves against a crime they may not have committed by politely declining to answer questions or submit to roadside sobriety tests until they are able to have a lawyer present,” he said in the release.

Those hitting the road should give thanks for the lowest seasonal gas prices since 2009, according to AAA Michigan.

Gas prices are at $2.87 per gallon, which is down 13 cents from last week and about 42 cents cheaper than this same time last year, AAA reported.

AAA Michigan estimates 1.5 million people in the state plan to travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend — 5 percent more than last year. They’ll encounter cold conditions as the National Weather Service indicates temperatures will be in the low 30s or upper 20s through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Aftab Borka of the Oakland Press contributed to this report.

via: Macomb Daily

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