Americans estimated to spend more on alcohol; DUI patrols up for the 4th

Published: Jul. 4, 2019 at 4:30 PM EDT
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With sales of alcohol being noticeably higher than firework sales this holiday, police are taking protective measures.

According to WalletHub, Americans spend billions of dollars on Independence Day celebrations. The top expense is food.

WalletHub estimates Americans plan to spend $6.8 billion on 4th of July food. You might think the second highest expense is fireworks, but this year, it's alcohol.

WalletHub estimates Americans will spend more than $1.6 billion on holiday beer and wine, compared to over $1 billion estimated for fireworks.

"It doesn't surprise me," Charleston resident Angela Bernath said.

With more alcohol off the shelves, there could be more impaired drivers on the road.

"Honestly, I try not to be on the roads for that reason," Bernath said.

Sgt. Chris Burford, commander of the Charleston Police Department Traffic Division, said the department will have more officers on both sides of the river for Thursday night's celebrations, and again for Live on the Levee on Friday.

West Virginia State Police will increase their presence on interstates and county roads, according to Cpt. Shallon Olgesby.

"Troopers will put an emphasis on all traffic violations, including speeding, failure to wear seat belts, impaired driving and distracted driving," Olgesby said.

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office will also have deputies focused on traffic patrols, according to Sgt. Brian Humphreys.

"Just know that, around any holiday, you may turn the corner and run into a checkpoint," Burford said.

Police encourage sticking with a sober driver and using ride-share apps to get home. Burford said if someone is throwing a party, they should be a good host and make sure each person gets home safe.

Burford told WSAZ driving sober is not the only thing that should be a priority this 4th of July. Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians in crowded areas.

"Use precautions, and just be observant out on the road for your safety and everyone else's," he said.

Drivers in Ohio will also see more law enforcement on the roads. The Ohio State Highway Patrol will be cracking down on impaired drivers through Sunday.