SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Sheriff's Department will institute stepped-up drunk driving patrols on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7 throughout the country, according to Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano.
The Sheriff’s Office is working with the community to promote the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers. The campaign is aimed at encouraging safe and sober driving during the Super Bowl game.
Several local businesses have agreed to promote the HERO Campaign to its patrons. Participating businesses include: Big Heads pub in Hillsborough,Southside Grille & Restaurant in South Bound Brook and Verve Restaurant in Somerville. Lexus of Bridgewater and BMW of Bridgewater are supporting the initiative by handing out HERO Campaign brochures and magnets.
“Many people will be attending parties at private residences or going to local bars or restaurants to watch the Super Bowl,” said Sheriff Provenzano. “If you will be drinking alcohol, make sure you have a plan to ensure a safe return trip.
"Such a plan starts with designating a driver who will not be drinking. By planning ahead, you can protect yourself, your family, friends and other drivers from tragic loss of life or injury on the road,” he added.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is a serious problem with severe consequences.
In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, 31 percent of all crash fatalities.
An average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 53 minutes in 2014.
“You don’t want to be a Super Bowl statistic,” Provenzano said. “In addition to the possible dire consequences of driving intoxicated, the financial and emotional toll will impact you, your family and possibly your job,” he said.
Drunk drivers face jail time, loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates and dozens of other expenses, ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, as well as lost wages due to time off from work. The average Driving Under the Influence case costs approximately $10,000.
Refusing to take a breath test in many jurisdictions can result in immediate arrest, the loss of your driver’s license on the spot and the impoundment of your vehicle.
“Besides the financial costs of driving while intoxicated, if you are arrested, you will suffer the humiliation of having to tell family, friends and your employer of your arrest,” Provenzano said. “If you injure or kill someone in a drunk-driving crash, you will have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.”
Bill Elliott and his wife Muriel 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.
Many New Jersey agencies are promoting the campaign and its message, “Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver,” via highway digital message boards, posters in participating bars and restaurants and the distribution of thousands of car-window decals through the “Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over” initiative by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
“We encourage establishments that serve alcohol to provide a free beverage option for fans who choose to be a designated driver,” Provenzano said.
“This Super Bowl 50, be a team player and remember that fans don’t let fans drive drunk,” he said.
For more information about the HERO Campaign, go to www.herocampaign.org