Raleigh police will go after drunken drivers on Super Bowl Sunday

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comJanuary 31, 2014 

— Police say they will be on the lookout for drunken drivers on Sunday, before, during and after the Super Bowl match-up between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Raleigh police say national statistics show a spike in DWI arrests on Super Bowl Sunday. They studied the number of DWI arrests in Raleigh for the three previous Super Bowls and noted a slight increase.

So this year, all of the department’s officers will be “particularly vigilant” for drunken drivers, especially after the game, said spokesman Jim Sughrue. They’ll work in tandem with the department’s DWI squad, which was created just before Christmas with funding from the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program and consists of four officers and a supervising sergeant.

Sughrue said that police aren’t trying to play the role of spoilsport on Super Bowl Sunday but that they want people to be safe.

“We understand it’s a time when a lot of people get together and have a good time watching the game. We are not discouraging that in any way,” he said. “We want people to make good decisions and make them before the party starts.

Sughrue said good pre-game planning for folks who anticipate drinking alcohol should include identifying someone to be a designated driver or arranging to take a taxi or public transportation after leaving the party.

“It’s important that they have a way to get to where they are going that does not involve getting behind the wheel of a car,” Sughrue said.

A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined 27 Super Bowls between 1975 to 2001. The researchers found a 41 percent increase, or about seven added deaths nationwide, on Super Bowl Sundays compared to regular Sundays. The largest number of fatal injuries occurred in states with a losing team versus those who had a winning team or no team at all in the big game.

Raleigh police analysts looked at DWI data for the past three Super Bowls and “noted a slight increase” in DWI arrests over a normal Sunday, Sughrue said.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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