Police Chase - Photo courtesy of Paul Biryukov on Shutterstock

Drive safe and sober during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend or face consequences, the California Highway Patrol said Monday.

The agency will initiate its annual Thanksgiving “maximum enforcement period” beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when all available officers will deploy to catch drunk or drug-impaired drivers, speeders and other traffic violators.

The MEP will conclude on Sunday night.

“As with every holiday, the CHP will work to keep motorists safe as they travel to gatherings with friends and family,” Commissioner Amanda Ray said. “Our officers will be on patrol to take enforcement action as necessary and to provide assistance to motorists who are stranded or in need of help on the side of the road.”

“Enjoy your Thanksgiving festivities, but please celebrate responsibly, wear your seat belt and always designate a sober, non-drinking driver,” she said.

Officers from the Riverside, Blythe, Beaumont, Indio and Temecula CHP stations will be on inland freeways, highways and unincorporated roads, looking to snare scofflaws.

During last year’s Thanksgiving maximum enforcement campaign, the CHP arrested 1,033 people statewide on suspicion of driving under the influence, compared to 868 arrests during the previous Thanksgiving holiday period — a 19% increase.

A total of 42 people died in collisions and other incidents on roads and highways under the CHP’s jurisdiction over Thanksgiving weekend 2021. The fatalities included 16 pedestrians and one bicyclist, the agency said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, half of the vehicle passengers killed in collisions nationwide during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2020 — the latest year for which data was available — were not wearing seatbelts.

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