Busiest night of the year for bars impacts DUI enforcement

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YORK, Pa. - The night before Thanksgiving has a potentially surprising reputation as the busiest night of the year for bars and restaurants.

It comes as law enforcement agencies across the country and here in central Pennsylvania increase enforcement of DUI laws through more safety patrols and sobriety checkpoints.

Some in the bar game know the day as "Black Wednesday" because of the profits successful bars earn.

"I've been doing this for a couple of years now and Wednesday nights before Thanksgiving are usually the busiest nights out of the year for bars and restaurants, so I'm hoping that extends to breweries as well," Jared Barnes, one of the co-owners of Collusion Tap Works in York said.

Collusion Tap Works opened in September, and is developing a growing following. Like many other bars, it made additional preparations for larger crowds.

"Everybody's home with family and friends, so they just know that they're going to have a gluttonous Thursday afternoon of lounging around, eating good food and being with friends and family, so I think tonight is kind of everybody just letting loose before the holidays," Barnes said.

Other bars, like Granfalloon's in York, also stepped their game up for more patrons.

"We have extra staff come in, we take extra precautions, set up numerous beer tubs on the deck," Shawn Benkert said.

Local law enforcement agencies are hoping the night does not take on the more serious moniker of "Blackout Wednesday" because of impaired drivers on the roads.

The York-based Center for Traffic Safety says Thanksgiving is the number one holiday for alcohol-related crashes. There were 11 over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2015, and two of those were fatal.

There are options for those who drink too much.

"If you feel like you can't drive, call a cab," Barbara Zortman, the center's director, said. "There's a lot of applications out there on your phone that you can download ahead of time to make it a safer party atmosphere for everybody."

Local bars say they are doing their part to make sure customers celebrate responsibly.

"If we see a person who is incapable of driving, we'll actually call a cab or we get an Uber for them," Benkert said. "We don't let them drive, we'll take their keys if we have to and leave them at the bar. Getting home safe is the number one priority tonight."