While you were scarfing turkey in your Snuggie, the California Highway Patrol was out serving and protecting freeways and state highways (and some unincorporated surface streets) throughout L.A. County.

Officers braced themselves for the worst yesterday, having recorded four deaths and 116 DUIs during the first 36 hours of the long Thanksgiving weekend last year.

This year, however, cash-strapped Angelenos, perhaps knowing an expensive DUI would put a damper on their Black Friday spending sprees, bettered their record in the same 36-hour period.

The CHP have reported 98 DUI arrests on highways and streets under their jurisdiction, and only two traffic deaths since 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve.

Statewide, the CHP recorded seven deaths — five less than during Thanksgiving 2009 — and 520 DUI arrests, 22 less than last year. (Considering L.A. County alone dropped 18, it's apparent the rest of the state didn't perform quite as outstandingly. So give yourselves a pat on the back — either we're smarter about securing a designated driver than the rest of California, or we're just better at driving drunk.)

As the Weekly reported yesterday, it's the LAPD's turn to nab some sloshy holiday free-wheelers: There will be police DUI checkpoints set up around L.A. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For streets to avoid, click here. CHP officers aren't planning on letting up, either: Their “Maximum Enforcement Period” (don't know about you, but we're shakin' in our Uggs over here) extends all the way through Sunday night. Last year during the Thanksgiving MEP, there were a total of 1,461 DUI arrests.

“During the holiday season many people are in a hurry and eager to get to their destination,” Commissioner Joe Farrow says passive-aggressively in the 2010 MEP press release. “It's important to remember that safety should never take a back seat;

be safe, pay attention to the road, never drink and drive and always buckle up.”

What could have accounted for the decline in DUI arrests by the CHP in the last 36 hours? Any theories?

With reporting from City News Service.

LA Weekly