Police Tackle Drunk Driving Problem on Super Bowl Sunday

February 1, 2013

1224537_couch_potato.jpgSuper Bowl Sunday now ranks among St. Patrick's Day and Fourth of July as one of the nation's top drinking holidays. Car accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins remind the public to be especially aware on the roads this coming Sunday.

Perhaps Americans are looking to re-live the excitement of New Year's Eve, or maybe they are trying to numb the cold of mid-winter, but either way, the Super Bowl and its alcohol-fueled celebrations have become ingrained in our culture. Unfortunately, the incidence of drunk driving on the Sunday has increased immensely, even just in the past decade.

One report by the AAA of Southern California analyzed data from Super Bowl Sundays between 2002 and 2011, and found that DUI crashes in California are 75% greater on Super Bowl Sunday than other Sundays in January or February, a statistic that was at just 41% in 2004. During this nine-year period in California, there were a total of nearly 650 alcohol-related fatal crashes on Super Bowl Sunday, which was over 275 more than the average Sunday.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 40% of all fatal crashes on Super Bowl Sunday were alcohol-related. During the 2010 Super Bowl, drunk driving contributed to one fatal accident every 52 seconds. The NHTSA created numerous Super Bowl-themed advertisements and campaign materials ("Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk"), including a list of safety tips for those planning on celebrating.

Among these tips include the standard drunk driving prevention techniques, such as designating a sober driver, buckling up, and pacing your alcohol intake. The agency provides helpful tips for those hosting Super Bowl parties as well. These include serving plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages, stopping alcoholic beverage serving at the end of the third quarter, keeping phone numbers for local cab companies handy, and making sure all guests have an established route home well in advance.

The NHTSA also highlights a very important fact that many American often overlook: anyone hosting a party can be held liable and prosecuted if a guest winds up in an alcohol-related crash. Additionally, if an underage person drinks and drives, the parents can be held liable for any damage or injuries cause by a crash, and could face jail time for allowing their child, or their friends, drink underage.

In most states, agencies and companies are developing easy-to-use and convenient drunk driving prevention programs. A smart phone app called STEARCLEAR, for example, provides designated driver services to residents in certain counties of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. STEARCLEAR offers a safe, reliable, and efficient alternative to drunk driving. Users just fill out your location and billing details, and a team member will pick you up and drive you to your desired location. In East Tennessee, AAA is providing a complimentary Tow to Go program, in which a tow truck driver will take you and your car home, even if you are not a AAA member.

Extra law enforcement on the roads this Sunday should come as no surprise, as the event consistently ranks second, behind only New Year's Eve, as the most dangerous day for drunk driving fatalities. Some counties, such as Kane in Illinois, are implementing a "No Refusal" program on Sunday. This operation gives police officers expedited search warrants to put pressure on suspected drunk drivers who refuse to give a breathalyzer test. The "No Refusal" program is expected to take place on St. Patrick's weekend as well.

Car accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins hope that Americans celebrate this unofficial holiday safely, and utilize the drunk driving prevention programs available in each state. The first hour immediately after the game ends has by far the worst accident rate, so avoid driving during that hour at all costs. If you are involved in a crash, remember that you may be entitled to compensation, and legal evaluations at Pintas & Mullins are always free of charge.