Fans don't let fans drive drunk

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party, make sure your guests designate sober drivers in advance or help arrange alternate transportation. Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter and offer coffee and dessert.

Public safety officials in Tennessee and Virginia are reminding residents, “Fans don’t let fans drive drunk.”

In a year where celebrations have been hard to come by, Super Bowl Sunday is a welcome distraction for many. But whether a Chiefs or Bucs fan, the guaranteed game-day loser is anyone who chooses to drive drunk.

If your game plan includes drinking, the Virginia State Police say it’s important to add a designated driver to your lineup. And, if you’re looking to win the MVP title, be a team player and volunteer to be the designated driver for your friends.

“Impaired drivers endanger lives on our highways. It’s that simple,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent. “On Sunday, Virginia troopers will be stepping up patrols during and following the Super Bowl in order to deter, detect and arrest drunk drivers. No game or drink is worth losing a life over, so please be responsible and remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office, in partnership with the Tennessee Titans, released a YouTube video featuring Mike Keith, the “Voice of the Titans,” to help spread the “Fans don’t let fans drive drunk” message across the state. Click here to watch the video: https://youtu.be/c7lSh-MF6dc.

“We encourage football fans to enjoy the game this weekend. Remember, it’s never safe to drink and drive. Always find a sober ride home. It’s the right thing to do,” Keith said.

During Super Bowl weekend last year, there were 59 drunk-driving crashes in Tennessee, according to the state’s Integrated Traffic Analysis Network. The previous year, there were 55.

“If your Super Bowl celebration involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home,” said THSO Director Buddy Lewis. “If you drink and drive, you can lose your license, your freedom, your life, or the life of someone else. Don’t take the risk. Never drink and drive.”

If you’re caught drinking and driving, you can face jail time, lose your driver’s license and your vehicle, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, car towing, higher insurance rates and lost wages, officials stressed.

In 2020 in Virginia, there were 27 alcohol-related crashes that resulted in 15 injuries on Super Bowl Sunday, according to crash facts from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office.

This year, winter weather may also impact many parts of the commonwealth on Sunday. Anyone planning to travel is urged to keep up to date on the weather in their area and to check road conditions at www.511virginia.org.

Whether you’re attending a socially distanced gathering, hosting one, or going out to a restaurant or bar, now is the time to strategize the most important part of your game plan: a shutdown defense to prevent drunk driving.

Here are a few tips for a safe Super Bowl weekend:

• Designate your sober driver, or plan an alternative (like sober side programs or rideshares) before the party begins.

• If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to come and get you; or just stay in for the night.

• Never let friends drive if they’ve had too much to drink. Take away the keys and help them get home safely.

• Always buckle your seatbelt. It’s still your best defense against drunk drivers.

• Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose whenever you are not eating or drinking.

• Consider hosting or joining a virtual Super Bowl watch party, which eliminates concerns about drinking and driving altogether with the added bonus of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party:

• Make sure your guests designate sober drivers in advance or help arrange alternate transportation.

• Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.

• Never serve alcohol to minors.

• Serve lots of food and include non-alcoholic beverages.

• Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter, and begin serving coffee and dessert.

• Limit the number of guests to 10 or less from outside of your immediate household.

• Require guests to wear masks.

• Have plenty of hand sanitizer and hand soap available. Disinfect surfaces and serving utensils frequently.

Virginians are also reminded of the governor’s modified stay-at-home order which requires everyone “to remain at their place of residence” from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Sunday Stories Editor

Carmen serves as Sunday Stories editor at the Times News and coordinates the Sports Live tweet team program.