Police issuing super warnings
BY EMILY MONTGOMERY
Super Bowl Sunday is a day often celebrated by wearing a favorite player’s jersey, eating chips and dip, screaming at the TV, critiquing commercials and drinking beer with friends.
It’s the beer that causes problems.
Too often, poor planning combined with over-consumption of alcohol can lead to people getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 40 percent of traffic fatalities on 2010’s Super Bowl Sunday were caused by drunken driving.
The NHTSA slogan for this year’s Super Bowl is, “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.” According to its website, Super Bowl Sunday ranks along with New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween as days with the most occurrences of drunken driving.
Sheriff’s offices in Stafford County and Culpeper are increasing their presence on the roads this Sunday to combat potentially higher numbers of drunken drivers.
“I want to stress to every driver that deputies will issue DUI charges and will stop impaired drivers,” said Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins in a press release.
The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office also will have extra deputies on the road, according to a press release.
It said this is to ensure that the streets are safe and to catch anyone who does drink and drive.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County will have the same amount of DUI coverage as normal weekends. Neither have had an increase in DUIs on recent Super Bowl Sundays, according to police officials.
“We are aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Association runs a Super Bowl Sunday campaign and we support that,” said Fredericksburg police information officer Natatia Bledsoe, “but we are not increasing officers.”
She added that in the past three years the city has not had any DUI arrests on Super Bowl Sunday.
Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office Capt. James Bibens said they will have patrols keeping an eye out for erratic behavior and will respond to those reports, but will not have extra officers on the road.
Kurt Gregory Erickson, president of the nonprofit, Virginia-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program said in a press release, “it’s important to have a game plan prior to kickoff and to beat this too-often-deadly opponent.”
His group recommends that individuals planning to celebrate the Super Bowl with alcohol designate a sober driver ahead of time or use a taxi. They also encourage party hosts to pay attention to the amount of alcohol their guests consume.
The Virginia State Police reminded motorists of the costs of a drunken driving conviction.
When a motorist is charged, the state police said in a news release, the vehicle will be towed away and the driver will go to jail.
Once in jail, bond must be posted to be released.
Then there is the arraignment, followed by a trial and the legal fees. If convicted, there are fines and court costs.
The driver’s license mostly likely will be suspended, and there are Department of Motor Vehicle fees and the required ignition interlock one must have installed.
“It is just not worth the price to drink and drive,” said Capt. Steven Chumley, State Police Richmond Division Commander.
Emily Montgomery: 540/374-5417