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Drinking at Thanksgiving? Be aware of Kentucky DUI laws

Gathering with family and friends at Thanksgiving to eat a big meal, probably featuring turkey, is an integral part of American life. It's a holiday with a storied past, dating back to those first Pilgrims hanging on for dear life in 1621.

In this post, we will explore the little-known role that alcoholic beverages played in facilitating the first Thanksgiving. But since Thanksgiving celebrating can put you at risk of a DUI arrest, we will also seek to inform you about the consequences of a DUI conviction in Kentucky.

Beer and 'strong water' among the Pilgrims

Research has shown that, in a curious way, the circumstances of the first Thanksgiving are intertwined with the consumption of distilled beverages.

In March 1621, an Algonquin man named Samoset visited the Pilgrims' village in Massachusetts. The Pilgrims were in desperate straits, having lost 45 of their 102 members that first winter in the New World. Samoset, however, had previously met other English colonists, and he knew that beer was often among their supplies.

So the story is that Samoset asked the Pilgrims for a beer. Beer was indeed a key item for the colonists, because it provided both much-needed calories and a much-needed source of something safe to drink. Unfortunately, when Samoset visited, the Pilgrims were out of beer - a sign of their desperate straits. But they were able to provide him with a modest meal that included biscuits, pudding and "strong water," which was presumably a form of distilled spirits.

Samoset later introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto, a man from the Patuxet tribe who taught them how to cultivate corn and fish for eel. Squanto also served as interpreter for the Pilgrims in working out a peace treaty with the Wampanaog tribe. It was that tribe who joined the Pilgrims for the feast in the fall of 1621 that set the stage for Thanksgiving holiday we know today.

Eating a big meal, consuming a few drinks

The popular understanding is that turkey tends to make you sleepy. Dietary researchers have been examining whether that is really true.

In practice, however, nutrition experts agree that feeling lethargic after the Thanksgiving feast is largely due to overeating. It's the combination of protein and carbohydrates (from potatoes and stuffing), along with relish, pie and perhaps wine, that makes you feel sleepy. Plus, a meal with a lot of fat requires the body to prioritize blood flow to the digestive system, leaving the brain with less blood and oxygen - and therefore leaving you less alert.

And so, if you are drowsy from a big meal while driving home, your lack of alertness could produce the type of erratic driving that can lead to a traffic stop. This can happen even if you didn't consume any alcohol.

But if you did imbibe alcoholic beverages as well, you could be facing DUI charges.

DUI in Kentucky

In Kentucky, DWI and DUI are abbreviations that refer to driving under the influence of intoxicants that impair driving ability. Alcohol is by no means the only substance that can cause such impairment. Illegal drugs, also known as controlled substances, can do so as well.

Indeed, even legal prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can potentially cause impairment. So can inhalants, such as glue, spray paint or gasoline.

Many people know that if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher, that is "per se" (in itself) evidence of intoxication.

For a first DUI offense in Kentucky, the penalties include a fine of $200 to $500 and 2 to 30 days in jail. You will also face a 90-day treatment program for alcohol or substance abuse and lose your driver's license for 30 to 120 days.

But there are also various aggravating factors that can result in a longer minimum amount of jail time.

Obviously there is a big difference between spending two days in jail for a first offense and spending a month. This is one reason why it is important to get a strong defense lawyer on your side right now when you are charged with DUI. Indeed, this is true no matter what type of DUI offense you are charged with.

And it is as true at Thanksgiving as any other time. You don't want to be the jail bird on Turkey day - even if you did consumer "strong water."

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