Only one team will walk away as Super Bowl 51 champions on Sunday - and off the field sober drivers will be winners too. In coordination with Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and statewide law agencies, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will conduct a Heat Is On DUI enforcement over Super Bowl weekend to keep Colorado roads safe from impaired drivers. The enforcement period begins on Friday, Feb. 3, and runs until Monday, Feb. 6. It will include 100 law enforcement agencies from across the state.
"The Super Bowl is an exciting event that combines friends, family, food and, for many people, alcohol," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "CDOT wants to remind football fans across the state to make safe travel plans -- to and from your destination -- before you start drinking. There's never a good reason to drive impaired."
Super Bowl weekend marks the second The Heat Is On enforcement of 2017. The Winter Blitz enforcement period ran from Jan. 20 to 30 and involved 59 law enforcement agencies that arrested 464 people for impaired driving. The Colorado Springs Police Department (68 arrests), Aurora Police Department (66 arrests) and Denver Police Department (57 arrests) recorded the most arrests.
"The fatality statistics prove that 2016 was a deadly year for impaired drivers," said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the CSP. "One hundred ninety-six people lost their lives because a choice was made to get behind the wheel while impaired. We have zero tolerance for impaired drivers. If you drive impaired, you will get caught, and you will go to jail. Make the right choice."
Law enforcement arrested 325 drivers during last year's Super Bowl enforcement. A DUI arrest can result in severe legal and financial consequences. First-time DUI offenders can be punished with up to one year in jail, license suspension and steep fines. On average, a DUI can cost more than $13,500 after considering fines, legal fees and increased insurance costs. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.
Whether you're planning on drinking, hosting a party or designated driving, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Are you Drinking?
* Before Super Bowl Sunday, devise a game plan that includes a sober driver -- someone who will not be drinking at all. Leave your car keys at home and consider getting a sober ride to your destination, so you don't have the option to later drive impaired. Great options include taxis, Uber, Lyft and RTD.
* Make sure your designated driver is sober, not just less intoxicated than you.
* Avoid drinking alcohol too quickly. Eat plenty of food, take breaks and alternate with non-alcoholic beverages.
* Just like the fans at the game, stop drinking after the third quarter.
* Use CDOT's R-U-Buzzed app to estimate your BAC, or even better, use a smartphone breathalyzer for a more accurate reading.
Hosting a Party?
* When sending out invitations, encourage your guests to designate sober drivers in advance.
* Create an Uber or Lyft ride code for your party and share with guests.
* Provide plenty of food, as well as an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages like soft drinks, juice and water.
* Only serve alcohol to guests that are over 21 years old.
* Stop serving alcohol after the third quarter (or half time).
* Remember, if you serve a guest alcohol and he or she gets in a crash, you could be held liable.
* Don't be afraid to take away someone's keys if they've had too much to drink -- they'll thank you later.
* Allow guests to spend the night if a sober ride home is unavailable.
Or, Are you Driving?
* If so, don't drink. Your responsible choice can save lives.
* Enjoy the party with food and non-alcoholic drinks.
* Offer safe rides to those who may not have prepared a sober ride home.
* Wear your seat belt and require all your passengers do the same.
The CDOT Highway Safety Office provides funding to Colorado law enforcement for impaired driving enforcement, education and awareness campaigns. The Heat Is On campaign runs throughout the year with 12 specific high visibility impaired driving enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large public events. Enforcement periods can include sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols and additional law enforcement on duty dedicated to impaired driving enforcement. More details about the campaign, including impaired driving enforcement plans, arrest totals and safety tips can be found at HeatIsOnColorado.com.