Extra drunk driving patrols on the road through this holiday weekend

Nearly 100 agencies in 20 counties will be conducting extra patrols Nov. 21-25 to ensure motorists are driving safe and sober this holiday.

The night before Thanksgiving is unofficially known as the â??biggest bar night of the year.â??

Michigan AAA estimates that 1.34 million people will be on the roadways this week. That's a 7% increase from Thanksgiving 2011.

Last year 166 people were arrested for alcohol-related offenses between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Fifty-one of those motorists had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or higher.

On an average Wednesday night in November about 74 people are arrested for alcohol-related offenses. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is coordinating the effort which is supported by federal traffic safety funds.

Agencies in the following counties are participating in the Thanksgiving drunk driving patrols: Berrien, Calhoun, Chippewa, Delta, Genesee, Houghton, Ingham, Jackson, Kent, Macomb, Marquette, Monroe, Oakland, Ogemaw, Ottawa, Saginaw, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wayne.

â??Thanksgiving is one the busiest travel times of the year and we want to make sure everyone gets to their holiday gatherings safely,â?? said OHSP Director Michael L. Prince. â??Extra officers will be out strictly enforcing drunk driving laws. Motorists need to designate a sober driver before drinking or take a cab or bus home.â??

During last yearâ??s Thanksgiving holiday weekend, seven people were killed on Michigan roadways. According to the Michigan State Police, Criminal Justice Information Center, none of those deaths were alcohol-related and two of the victims were not wearing a seat belt.

A motorist convicted of drunk driving can expect to face serious consequences including: Up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine , up to 360 hours of community service, 180 days driving suspension, six points on a driverâ??s license.

In addition, they will be subject to a $1,000 fee for two consecutive years, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs.

Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driverâ??s license suspension. Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher, including increased fines, longer jail time, a one-year license suspension and the possibility of a restricted driverâ??s license with the use of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device.