The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles will face off in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. Millions of people will watch the Big Game at bars, restaurants and homes all across Southern California and the nation. That’s why the Auto Club, MADD and law enforcement remind fans to prevent alcohol and drug-impaired driving this coming weekend.
One-third of all crashes in California are due to impaired driving. According to the California Highway Patrol, during the last five Super Bowl Sundays, there were 1,363 DUI crashes that resulted in 43 fatalities and 756 injuries in the Golden State. Nationwide, in 2020 (most recent national data available), 55 people died on Super Bowl Sunday, which was 44 % of all traffic deaths for that day of the week.
“Our message to drivers is drive sober or game over,” said Auto Club Corporate Communications Manager Doug Shupe. “A DUI collision could forever change your life or someone else’s life, leave you with a lifetime full of guilt, prevent you from getting the job you want, and cost you a lot of money. Your entire life could be negatively impacted by making the wrong decision to drive after drinking alcohol.” According to Auto Club research, a first-time DUI conviction in California could cost a driver $22,578 in court, arrest and DMV fines, fees and penalties, alcohol education classes, attorney’s fees and additional insurance costs. Beyond the financial penalties of a DUI, there is a much greater cost which is that of a human life. That is why the Auto Club, law enforcement and MADD are reminding fans to plan ahead before heading out to watch the game.
“We urge everyone to put choosing a non-drinking, sober driver at the top of their Super Bowl party checklist,” said Patricia Rillera, MADD California State Executive Director. “Whether you are going out or staying in, celebrate with a plan.”
In addition to alcohol and driving, legal recreational marijuana and driving is also a concern. Whether you smoke, vape or consume edibles, getting behind the wheel when you’re high on marijuana poses a risk to everyone on the road as well. In fact, next to alcohol, marijuana is the drug most found in drivers who have been involved in collisions.
Research shows drivers involved in crashes who also tested positive for THC were three to seven times more likely to be responsible for having caused the crash. Marijuana’s affects on driving abilities include:
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Slower reaction times
- Inability to stay in traffic lanes
- Difficulty judging distances
- Slower decision-making
- Reduced peripheral/side vision
- Reduced coordination
This weekend CHP and LAPD officers will be watching closely for both alcohol and drug-impairment on our roadways.
“The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event of the year, and many people will choose to watch the game with alcohol. We want our community members to enjoy the Big Game but do it responsibly and safely,” said LAPD Transit Services Bureau Deputy Chief Donald Graham. “We need commitment from drivers that they’ll help keep the roads safe and if they don’t, we will be there.”
“We will be on high alert for impaired drivers,” said CHP Central Los Angeles Area Captain Jared Perry. “Alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). Cannabis, prescription medications, and illegal drugs can all impair your ability to drive and send you to jail.”
Elina Medina knows the pain of losing someone to DUI. On April 6, 1996, her best friend was driving her and Medina’s 4-year-old brother home when an impaired driver going 64 miles per hour on a residential street slammed into them while they were in an intersection.
“After the crash, someone had to help me out of the car, and I was screaming for someone to help my brother,” said Medina.
Tragically, Medina’s young brother was ejected from the car and killed. Her best friend, who was behind the wheel at the time, also died instantly. The driver who hit them was a repeat offender and this crash was his fourth DUI. After a mistrial, the driver pleaded guilty during a second trial and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Medina has suffered from survivor’s guilt in the years following the crash.
“To not be able to hug them, or see them, or celebrate life with them is completely devastating, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I go through on a daily basis,” said Medina.
The Auto Club, MADD and law enforcement offer the following tips to ensure safe roads this Super Bowl weekend.
·Ask guests to designate a sober driver in advance.
·Keep phone numbers for sober ride services handy.
·Take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and don’t let them drive impaired.
·Encourage guests to pace themselves. Serve food and non-alcoholic drinks and water. Many mocktail recipes, including those featuring team colors, can be found online.
·Do not serve alcohol or cannabis to anyone under age 21. It is illegal.
·Allow guests to stay overnight, if possible.
Super Bowl Fans and Partygoers:
·Designate a sober driver or safe ride home before attending a Super Bowl party.
·Make sure your designated driver is sober. If he or she decides to drink, call a sober friend or family member for a ride home. Or, if possible, stay where you are for the night.
·Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been consuming marijuana or drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
·If you’re under 21, do not consume alcohol or marijuana. It’s against the law.
- Take your role as designated driver seriously. Refrain from any alcoholic beverages or drugs.
- Always buckle up and require passengers to do the same.
- If someone you know has been drinking or using marijuana, take their keys and help them get home safely.
- 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).