Local, state police to crack down on drunken driving for Super Bowl

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published January 31, 2018

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SOUTHFIELD — Authorities want residents to think before they drink this Super Bowl Sunday. 

The Southfield Police Department is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for an initiative called Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk before, during and after the big game, which urges residents not to drink and drive. 

Super Bowl LII kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4 for a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Justin Timberlake is slated to take the stage for the halftime show.

In all states, drivers are considered alcohol-impaired if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. 

According to a news release from the city of Southfield, in 2016 there were 10,497 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drunken drivers across the country. Among those, 67 percent, or 7,052, were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of 0.15, almost twice the legal limit.

Sgt. Thomas Literacki, of the Southfield Police Department, said officers will be conducting operating while intoxicated details throughout the evening and early-morning hours following the Super Bowl. 

Literacki said that in Michigan, a first-offense OWI charge can result in up to 180 days in jail, 360 hours of community service and a $700 fine. 

“Compared to a $10-$20 cab or Uber, it’s really not worth it,” Literacki said in a written statement.

Deputy Chief Nick Loussia, of the Southfield Police Department, said he believes this is the first time Southfield has organized this type of detail around the Super Bowl. 

“Typically, when there is a special event going on, there is an increase in the number of people that are driving when they shouldn’t be,” he said. 

Loussia said that if residents are planning on drinking, the thing to do before even taking a sip of alcohol is to make a plan on how to get home. 

“The most important advice that we can give is to make plans before you start drinking. Make plans to have a ride to the event and after the event even before you start drinking,” he said. 

The Michigan State Police will also be on the lookout. 

Lt. Mike Shaw, public information officer for the Michigan State Police, said troopers look for impaired drivers every day, but they will be upping their game come game day. 

“During Super Bowl weekend, we will have extra patrols, making sure everyone gets to their destination safely. This will include looking for impaired drivers — alcohol and narcotics — seat belt use, distracted drivers, and also making sure that we check on suspicious activity as well,” Shaw said in an email. 

In addition to ride-sharing apps and taxis, the NHTSA offers the SaferRide mobile app, which can help fans find a sober ride home. The app identifies users’ locations and helps them call a taxi or a friend to pick them up. 

If apps aren’t your cup of tea, Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins offered up a more “old school” solution — find a designated driver.

“We want to encourage everyone to turn over their keys to a sober driver — our vote for game MVP — before they begin drinking,” Hawkins said in a written statement. “Drunk driving can result in serious crashes, injuries or death.”

Designated drivers can tweet @NHTSAgov during the game to be featured on the organization’s National Wall of Fame.