Super Bowl LII, the nation’s biggest sporting event, is typically celebrated by fans and families socializing at parties where alcohol is consumed. This year, with recreational marijuana now legal in California, cannabis edibles may be offered on the game day party buffet table, while the Philadelphia Eagles are battling the New England Patriots on the big screen TV, Sunday, Feb. 4.
Last year’s game was the fifth-most watched television event of all time, according to Nielsen ratings, taken in globally by 111.3 million viewers. Since nearly one-third of crashes in California are due to impaired driving, a percentage of those viewers are potentially impaired drivers who will get on the road following the game.
In 2015, 19 percent of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes, who were tested, were positive for legal and/or illegal drugs, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. And as a percent of total fatalities, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased to nearly 29 percent in 2015, up a percent from 2014 in the Golden State.
“Marijuana was the number one drug in the U.S. found in drivers killed in crashes,” said the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Traffic Safety and Community Programs Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana. “Marijuana use decreases driver performance and attention, and increases lane deviation commonly known as weaving. When alcohol is consumed, just one drink impairs a driver’s judgement, concentration, and ability to interpret situations, signs and signals and slows down reaction time,” she added.
The CHP is using Caltrans freeway signs to remind drivers that driving high will result in a DUI arrest just as with alcohol impairment. Enforcement is by officers of whom hundreds are certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) and trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) techniques.
Designate a Sober Driver
“The Auto Club strongly urges Super Bowl party goers to designate a sober driver in advance to get home safely after the game and to avoid a DUI,” said Lorz Villagrana. “California officers arrest scores of DUI offenders every year. In 2015, approximately 141,458 drivers were arrested for the offense, enough to fill Dodger Stadium three times. “The toll from drinking and driving in our state is enormous,” said Lorz Villagrana. In California, nearly 1,000 individuals were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2015, she added.
Auto Club Reminds Drivers the Cost of a DUI is $21,731
The Auto Club reminds motorists that people convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or a combination could lose financially and emotionally important parts of their lives, over a long time such as family, job, dignity and money. The Auto Club estimates that a first offense misdemeanor DUI conviction in California can cost approximately $21,731 or more in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. The cost of an under age 21 first-offense misdemeanor DUI is even higher, estimated at $22,492.
To help keep motorists and passengers safe on Super Bowl Sunday, the Auto Club recommends these tips:
For Home Party Hosts:
- Ask all your guests to designate a sober driver in advance.
- Keep phone numbers for sober ride services handy.
- If hosting a Super Bowl party, be a responsible host. Take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and don’t let them drive impaired.
- As a host, serve food and non-alcoholic drinks and water. Many zero-proof mocktail recipes can be found online at websites, blogs and Pinterest.
- Serve protein-rich and starchy foods to slow alcohol absorption.
- Do not serve alcohol to anyone under age 21. It is illegal.
- Do not serve cannabis to anyone under age 21. It is illegal.
- Stop serving alcohol in the third quarter. Begin serving coffee and dessert.
- Allow guests to stay overnight, if possible.
- Thank designated drivers and provide them small gifts.
For Party Guests or Patrons Watching at Restaurants-Bars:
- Designate a sober driver in advance if attending a Super Bowl party.
- Keep a sober ride service telephone number in your cell phone and wallet so you can call for a ride home. Make sure the ride service driver matches the driver on the app. Bus service could be an option as well.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol, too quickly. Eat food and drink water during the party.
- Call a sober friend or family member for a ride if you’ve been drinking. Or, if possible, stay where you are for the night.
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
- If you’re under 21, do not consume alcohol. It’s against the law.
- Buckle your seat belt each time you drive.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to a safe location to make the call yourself).