Super Bowl Sundays see serious spike in DUI crashes, according to AAA study

SAN DIEGO - Whether you plan to watch the Super Bowl or not, Sunday could have an impact on you.

San Diegan Jeff Ring knows Sunday will bring a good game.

"Just happy to see one last football game this year," he said. 

Ring also knows what a day of Super Bowl parties can bring.

"We love our football and a lot of times that involves drinking alcohol along with it," he said. 

Unfortunately, that mix is leading to car crashes. A recent AAA study found that on Super Bowl Sunday, DUI fatal and injury crashes jump 75 percent in California compared to other Sundays in January and February. That is nearly double the number from nine years ago.

"We know it's a very busy day," said California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Pennings, which is why the CHP will be out in force on Sunday.  

While people enjoy watching the game and the commercials, the CHP also wants them to know even one drink could get them in trouble.

"They have no clue how bad they really are," said Pennings. "If we stop an impaired person and they are less than a .08, they can still be arrested for driving under the influence."

Even if you fill your stomach with coffee, food or taper off from the drinking, the CHP would rather you not drive at all.

"DUI is a bad thing that happens to good people sometimes," said Pennings.

Ian Linekin, managing partner of McGregor's Grill and Ale House, understands that as well.

"It's one of our busier days of the year," he said. 

Linekin said along with Super Bowl festivities, there are also plans to actively engage their customers.

"We always make sure before you leave we give you a little look in the eye and see if you are OK before you get out on the road," he said. "If need be, we'll call you a cab. We'll make sure your friends who might be here and a little more responsible, take care of you or call home."

No cab will be necessary for Ring.  He is a veteran firefighter of 16 years and knows where drinking and driving can lead.

"For me, the stakes are too high," he said. "I'd rather be at home and be safe and still have as much fun as I'd like."

Driving under the influence is not only dangerous, it can be costly. The CHP says penalties for the first offense are suspension of your driver's license for at least six months and a minimum fine of $10,000. 

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