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South Carolina Highway Patrol cracking down on drunk driving during holidays

Thanksgiving is a time when families comes together. The night before is when friends come together to celebrate, and has become known as Blackout Wednesday.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — Thanksgiving is a time when families come together and give thanks, but the night before is traditionally one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

Friends gather and celebrate Wednesday evening, and it's become known as Blackout Wednesday, the biggest drinking night of the year.

One father in Lexington County is warning everyone to not drink and drive. 

"For us, we lost Emma," said Davis Longstreet. "When we were turning into the intersection, we unfortunately had a drunk driver encounter and it was a fatality."

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Longstreet said his wife and three sons were injured in the wreck, but his 6-year-old daughter Emma died. 

The crash occurred at the intersection of Sunset Blvd and Mallard Lake Dr. in Lexington County.

"You live with the tragedy and hope that others cannot have this happen in their life," Longstreet said. "You know we can come through a tragedy like this but it is very much preventable."

Approaching 10 years since his loss, Longstreet urges everyone to be responsible when celebrating the holidays. 

"If you do decide to drink, that you do have a designated driver and set the keys aside," Longstreet said. "Not say, 'Hey, I'm safe to get home. I'm buzz driving.' That's not what we want to hear. We want to people to be responsible."

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The South Carolina Highway Patrol will be cracking down on drivers under the influence during the holidays. 

"All too often, we see where good people make poor choices, and those poor choices may lead to several thousand dollars in fines, 30 days in jail, or even worse, it could lead to death," said Trooper David Jones with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. 

According to Trooper Jones, if you are pulled over for a DUI, your license could also be suspended. He said in 2019, 19 lives were lost in the state during the Thanksgiving Holiday, and 14 lives in 2020. 

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"Go out, have a good time, go out and celebrate everything we're thankful for. We're here in 2021, we have a lot to be thankful for," Trooper Jones said. "But if you're gonna go out and celebrate with drinks, make sure you do the responsible thing and get a designated driver because I can promise you, the South Carolina Highway Patrol is going to be out in full force. If you make the poor decision and drive, we're going to be out in the roadways and make sure that you are stopped, arrested, and taken into jail."

Trooper Jones says if you are in a crash while under the influence, and someone is injured, that could be treated as a felony; you could spend 15 years in prison. If someone dies during the crash, that's a 25-year sentence.