Make This Thanksgiving A Holiday To Remember

This Thanksgiving holiday, the Richland County DUI Task Force and Richland County Health Department is teaming up with U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to spread the message that impaired driving of any kind — drugged or drunk — is dangerous and illegal. Before heading out to any holiday event, remember: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.

During the long holiday weekend, we want to encourage positive actions that can help reduce impaired driving on the roadways. Nationally, it is illegal to drive impaired — no exceptions. If you are under the influence of any impairing substance, hand the keys to a sober friend instead of driving yourself.

It’s our mission to help make sure you make it to the Thanksgiving table, so we want our community members to stay safe on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday. This is the kick off to a wonderful time of year, and we only want people making happy memories. Driving under the influence is deadly, illegal, and no one should ever take that risk.

Drunk-driving-related crashes spike during the Thanksgiving holiday season. According to NHTSA, from 2015 to 2019, 135 drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve (6 p.m.-5:59 a.m.) were alcohol-impaired, and over the entire holiday period (6 p.m. the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through 5:59 a.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving), nearly 800 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes. In fact, during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday period, more than four times as many drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired during nighttime hours than during the day.

When it comes to marijuana use, especially, the laws are changing across the country, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an impairing substance, and any impairment is a threat when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle. We are asking our community members to please make good decisions during the long holiday and commit to sober driving.

Options to Get

Home Safely

If you’re planning to head out to the bar or parties during the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you plan for a safe ride home. If you leave your house unprepared to get home safely, you may not make the best choice of how to get home at the end of the night. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a safe night out.

• If you have used an impairing substance such as marijuana or alcohol, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.

• If you’re planning to use drugs or drink, plan ahead for a sober driver to safely drive you to your destination. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.

• Do you have a friend who is about to drive while impaired? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later.

• If available, use your community’s sober ride program or the Sidney Shuttle.

• If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact the Richland County Sheriff Department Dispatch by dialing 911.

It doesn’t matter what term you use: If a person is feeling a little high, buzzed, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she should not get behind the wheel.

Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at the Richland County Health Department.

If you have any questions, need some additional information or would like to be a member of the Injury Prevention/DUI Task Force please contact Don Smies, Coordinator, 406-433-2207. Check us out on Facebook,


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