Avoid drinking, driving for the big game

FORT MADISON — The National Football League’s Super Bowl LV is on Sunday, February 7, 2021, and it’s one of America’s favorite annual celebrations. Although the way we view sporting events has changed for now, we still want to make sure everyone is safe on Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you are hosting a virtual watch party, attending a socially distanced small gathering, or heading to a restaurant or bar, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is teaming up with the Fort Madison Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Department to remind football fans everywhere that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.

Nationally, people are quarantining and practicing social distancing, but we know festivities will still occur, even on a smaller scale. If your Super Bowl celebration involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. If you are hosting an intimate gathering of immediate family or your ‘pod’ friends, make sure you take care of your designated drivers. Remind your friends and family: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.”

Never Drive Drunk
Whether you are attending a socially distanced gathering, hosting one, or going out to the bar, keep safety at the forefront of your night. When it is time to leave, make sure your designated driver is actually sober. If he or she decided to drink, call a sober ride. Remember that walking impaired can also be dangerous, so designate a sober friend to walk home with you. If you are driving, remember that sober driving is not the only law that should be followed: Make sure you — and your driver — wear your seat belts.

Bonus Points for the Designated Drivers
If you are planning to be a designated driver, know that you’re the night’s MVP. No matter what, do not drink any alcohol — people are relying on you. If you are attending a socially distanced small gathering or at a bar, enjoy the food, the company, and the non-alcoholic drinks. Encourage other designated drivers on social media using the hashtag #DesignatedDriver. Your positive influence could help keep other designated drivers on the right track. If someone you know has been drinking and tries to drive, take their keys and help them get home safely. Even if they make a fuss in the moment, they’ll thank you later. 

Host Pointers for the Win
If you are hosting a small gathering for this year’s Super Bowl, prepare plenty of snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for your guests and the designated drivers. You could even get creative and try out some Super Bowl-themed snacks and beverages. Don’t forget to include the hand sanitizer and some disposable masks!

Ask those in your “pod” to designate their sober drivers in advance. Remind drinking guests that they have a long evening ahead of them, and encourage them to pace themselves, to eat food, and to drink plenty of water. Another important reminder: Do not serve alcohol to minors. If an underage person drinks and drives, the person who provided the alcohol can be held liable for any damage, injury, or death caused by the underage driver. In fact, you could face jail time if you host a gathering where alcohol is served to people under the age of 21.

Drug-Impaired Driving Penalty Points
Drunk driving is not the only risk on the road: Drug-impaired driving is also an increasing problem. If drivers are impaired by any substance — alcohol or other drugs — they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is illegal in all States and the District of Columbia to drive impaired by alcohol or other drugs. The bottom line is this: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. It is that simple.

Have a Game Plan
Whether you are attending a small social gathering or going to a bar or restaurant, make a game plan and follow these simple tips for a safe and happy evening:

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or a ride service to get home safely.
  • If available, use your community’s sober ride program
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Fort Madison Police Department or Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
  • Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Alternative Activities

This year’s Super Bowl is drastically different from previous years. For those staying home, consider hosting or attending a virtual Super Bowl watch party. Bonus: No need to worry about drinking and driving!

In many communities, alcohol transport is also different. If your community now allows alcoholic drinks for carryout, you need to remember to transport any alcohol for Game Day in a leak-proof container, leaving stickers and seals in place. No straws should be placed in the containers. In many states, open containers are prohibited in any seating area of a vehicle, including the driver’s side, passenger side, or backseat, even if the vehicle is stopped or parked. Remember that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. Ensure you are following open container laws.

Remember: Only one team wins, but if you drive drunk, you may lose money, your reputation, your car, and even your life. Everyone should know by now that it is illegal to drive impaired. Even still, thousands die each year in drunk-driving-related crashes. In 2019, there were 10,142 people killed in drunk-driving crashes. The costs can be financial, too: 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, higher insurance rates, and lost wages.

For more information on the dangers of drunk driving, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.

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