Police & Fire

Somerset County Police Increase DWI Patrols on Super Bowl Sunday

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SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Sheriff's office and police departments throughout New Jersey will be on the roads looking for drunk drivers on Super Bowl Sunday.

“With help from the community, we are working together to promote the ‘John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers’ aimed at encouraging safe and sober driving during the Super Bowl game,” said Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano.

The Sheriff's DWI Enforcement Patrol will be part of the overall Somerset County effort.

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“If you plan on consuming alcohol this Super Bowl, remember to pass the keys to a designated driver to help your family and friends get home safely. Drunk driving only leads to disaster and tragedy and with multiple taxi services/rideshare programs available at the touch a fingertip via a smart phone, there is no excuse to be driving under the influence,” said Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Somerset County highway safety and law enforcement officials are also teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a special “Super Bowl Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk,” program, according to Robertson.

The extra patrols are funded through a grant from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. Additionally, specially trained officers will be available to assist with drivers that are under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol. It is strongly recommended that fans that are impaired secure a safe ride home by designating a sober driver, using public transportation, or calling a taxi or rideshare program.

NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, is another resource to help football fans who have been drinking find a sober ride home–by identifying their location and helping to call a taxi or a friend to pick them up.

Designated sober drivers for Super Bowl weekend should refrain from drinking alcohol and enjoy the game with food and non-alcoholic drinks instead. They can tweet @NHTSAgov during Super Bowl LI to be featured on NHTSA’s national Wall of Fame, according to Robertson.

 As part of the HERO campaign, Verve Restaurant, Bar & Bistro in Somerville, Big Heads Pub in Hillsborough, as well Bridgewater Lexus, Bridgewater BMW, Open Road Volkswagen and Open Road Mercedes Auto Group have agreed to promote the HERO Campaign to its patrons,handing out campaign brochures and magnets.   

“Many people will be attending parties with their friends at private residences or going to local bars or restaurants to watch the Super Bowl,” Provenzano said. “If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure you have a good plan to ensure a safe return trip. That starts with designating a driver who will not be drinking,” he said. “By planning ahead, you can protect yourself, your family, friends and other drivers from tragic loss of life on the road.”

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is a serious problem with severe consequences.  “You don’t want to become a Super Bowl statistic,” Provenzano said.

· In 2014 there were 9,967 people killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, 31 percent of all crash fatalities. In 2015, that number increased to 10,265.

- An average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 53 minutes in 2014;

- Drunk drivers face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses, ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs and lost wages due to time off from work.;

- The average DUI case costs approximately $10,000.

Refusing to take a breath test in many jurisdictions results in immediate arrest, the loss of driver’s license on the spot and impoundment of the vehicle. 

Bill and Muriel Elliott started the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers in memory of their son, U.S. Navy Ensign John R. Elliott, who was killed in a collision with a drunk driver in July 2000.  While at the U.S. Naval Academy, Ensign Elliott was selected as a Human Education Resource Officer (HERO) to counsel and mentor other members of his company and was named “the outstanding HERO” of his graduating class. Ensign Elliott was killed two months after graduating from the academy.

Multiple New Jersey agencies will promote the campaign and its message, “Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver,” through highway digital message boards, posters in participating bars and restaurants and thousands of car-window decals distributed as part of the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

“Impaired driving is completely preventable. All it takes is a little planning,” Provenzano said. “We want the public to remember that it’s a choice. Drink responsibly or drive sober—these are good choices. We want to keep people from making a poor choice that harms others and themselves,” he added.

For more information about the HERO Campaign, go towww.herocampaign.org or contact Sheriff’s Officer Nick Fazio at 908-231-7140 ext. 9 or Fazio@co.somerset.nj.us or Lt. Steve San Antonio 908-231-7168 or SanAntonio@co.somerset.nj.us

Police from the following towns are participating in the campaign:

Bernards Township; Bound Brook; Branchburg Township; Bridgewater Township; Franklin Township; Green Brook Township; Hillsborough Township; Manville; Montgomery Township; North Plainfield; Peapack Gladstone; Warren Township; Watchung.

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