This Is Why Bartenders Call New Year's Eve "Amateur Night"

December 30th 2016

Mike Rothschild

To people within the hospitality industry, New Year's Eve is known as "amateur night" — a holiday when light drinkers, parents with young kids, and casual revelers head out on the town for a nice dinner or a night of boozing, even if they rarely do so the rest of the year. (Comedian Ed McMahon, of "The Tonight Show" fame, also used the term to describe New Year's Eve, according to the Chicago Tribune.)

Knowing this, it would make sense that the New Year's holiday would have more car accidents, DUI arrests, and vehicle deaths than any other.

But do the numbers bear this out? Or is there another holiday night that's even worse?

In terms of the number of DUI arrests, New Year's Eve is the worst night of the year, partially due to light drinkers overdoing it, but also because of the number of checkpoints and extra police out on streets. Various factors can influence these numbers, including whether New Years falls on a weekend, which can increase the number of people traveling.

Overall, another unexpected influence on DUI arrests is the state of the economy: during periods of high unemployment, people stay home to save money, resulting in fewer DUI arrests and crashes.

And while apps like Uber and Lyft are more popular every year, studies have shown they have little effect on DUI arrests during peak drinking times.

While DUI arrests are more frequent on New Year's Eve, there's no corresponding spike in fatalities. New Year's actually ranks behind Thanksgiving Day, Labor Day, and worst of all, the Fourth of July, for vehicle deaths involving alcohol. Independence Day averages about ten more vehicle deaths every year than the New Year's average.

New Year's Eve isn't the only "amateurs night".

It's true that both experienced drink-makers and drink consumers call New Year's Eve "amateur night" because of overpriced drink packages consumed by infrequent partiers who make themselves sick.

But another holiday is being branded by bartenders as amateur night: the night before Thanksgiving. A combination of college kids home from school, an approaching long weekend, and people seeing old friends turns a normally quiet weeknight into "Blackout Wednesday."

Bars offer drink specials catering to students used to cheap and heavy drinking, while it's also a popular night for reunions. And predictably around the Thanksgiving holiday, including "Blackout Wednesday," DUI arrests and deaths spike, with some cities reporting numbers close to New Year's Eve's.

It seems the only real solution to avoiding holiday DUI danger is to stay home and drink for free.