- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008

Police departments around the region said they would be on patrol for drunken drivers today.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) labels Super Bowl Sunday as one of the most dangerous days when it comes to drunk driving,” said Kurt Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a public-private group dedicated to curbing drunken driving and underage drinking in the region.

NHTSA officials say 140 persons were killed nationwide in alcohol-related crashes during the 2006 Super Bowl weekend. That accounted for 39 percent of all traffic deaths during that period.

Caroline Cash, executive director of the Maryland and Delaware chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said police have told her they would enact “high-visibility law enforcement including sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrol.”

“Saturation patrol is when multiple units will saturate a particular area that may either have the potential to have drunk drivers or have proven to be an area where many crashes occur,” she said.

Fairfax County police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said the department will have “directed patrols — police officers that are looking for intoxicated drivers.”

Ms. Caldwell said that the department schedules directed patrols every weekend.

“It’ll be heavier on Sunday in an effort to target the Super Bowl drunk drivers,” she said.

In Montgomery County, police said they “will not confine coverage to one particular area.”

“Super Bowl Sunday, unlike St. Patrick’s Day, is celebrated in a variety of homes and locations … and [the department’s] feeling is that our community is better served by having all officers … on the lookout for impaired drivers,” police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said.

Mr. Erickson said that unlike other holidays with the potential for large numbers of drunken drivers, his organization will not implement its free taxi ride program — called SoberRide.

Cab driving is a “male-dominated industry,” Mr. Erickson said, “and it’s hard to pull that off on the Super Bowl.”

Instead, WRAP encourages those holding Super Bowl parties to be responsible hosts, those attending parties or watching the game at bars or restaurants to designate a sober driver and for those on the roads to report drunken drivers by calling 311 in the District or #77 from wireless phones in Maryland and Virginia.

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