The Thanksgiving Holiday, a time when we get together with family and friends to remember all of the reasons we have to be grateful, is also a time of the year where we see some unique legal issues. It turns out that Thanksgiving is stuffed with juicy legal issues – many of which can and should be avoided. Here are some of the top Thanksgiving legal issues:

  • DUI. The “DUI season” kicks off on the night before Thanksgiving (“Black Wednesday”), extending through New Year’s. DUI arrests are at a high point for the year during this Holiday season. Black Wednesday, the night college kids return home from school, is unofficially the busiest bar night of the year. This means it’s also a busy night for the police out looking for drunk drivers. Large numbers of people out at bars combined with the busiest travel weekend of the year (90% by car), and you’ve got a dangerous mix. Federal traffic safety data shows that the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the most deadly period on American roads. If you plan to drink, designate a driver who is not drinking, or make it home safely in a cab. Do whatever you need to do but avoid getting behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.
  • Traffic Crashes. Last year, over 300 people were killed in traffic crashes across the nation during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Tragically, 60% of those killed were not buckled up. It seems obvious but people still make excuses for not putting on their seatbelts. Always buckle up – it’s your best defense against other drivers. Fasten that seatbelt and put the survival numbers in your favor.
  • Tort Liability. Thanksgiving is the Holiday when the guy who hasn’t microwaved a hot dog all year decides he wants to start drinking at 10am and deep fry a turkey. Deep frying a turkey involves gallons of highly flammable cooking oil brought to a boil in an open pot which is connected by hoses to a regulator valve and a propane tank. Add alcohol and festivities to the mix and you literally have a powder keg waiting to explode. Serious injury and fire damage to your home are a very real possibility that we see all to often. The NFPA says the fryer fires result in over $15 million in property damage each year, not to mention the serious burns and injuries. We are not saying don’t deep fry your turkey, we just want to remind people to be mindful of the potential dangers associated with deep frying a 20lb bird. If you don’t want to spend the day after Thanksgiving filling out your homeowners claim from a motel room be careful. Never put the fryer indoors or even on a covered patio and keep it as far away from the house as possible.
  • Child Custody. The Holiday season is always a flash point for ongoing child custody battles that have been bubbling under the surface for the prior 10 months of the year. November marks the beginning of the holiday child custody wars that create more stress and anxiety than holiday cheer. Thanksgiving marks one of the busiest times of year for filing child custody pleadings in the courts.
  • Black Friday. Like turkey fryer lawsuits, lawsuits on Black Friday are becoming a bit of a tradition. The urban legend of sleep-deprived, stressed out and hung over bargain-shoppers trampling each other to save a few dollars is unfortunately very real, The 75% off bargain priced item ain’t worth it. Do your shopping from the sanity of your own home. Find a sale online or wait until the crowds go away.