(Information provided by AMR and the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association)
Drunk driving crashes skyrocket after Super Bowl games, so AMR paramedics and the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association (MHRA) are urging party hosts to prevent DUI.
In a joint statement, AMR spokesman Jim Pollard and MHRA executive director Pat Fontaine said, “Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest days for drinking beer and liquor. Parties can start long before kickoff and last beyond the game’s end. Those facts can be a recipe for tragedy.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that men ages 21 to 34 are most likely to be involved in DUI crashes, less likely to use seat belts and very likely to speed. Young men are also the core audience for major sporting events. NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Reporting System has shown Sunday Bowl Sundays are among the worst days of the year for DUI crashes.
BACtrack, a maker of personal breathalyzers, has studied the level of alcohol in the blood measured by law enforcement testing for each day of the year. BACtrack found, in some years, DUI offenders on Super Bowl Sunday had on average the second- or third-highest blood alcohol content of all days of the year. New Year’s Eve is perennially the worst. In short, DUI offenders on Super Bowl Sunday are among the most intoxicated on the road any day of the year.
AMR and MHRA urges party hosts to make certain guests don’t get drunk and drive. Fontaine and Pollard said, “Party hosts, bartenders and servers have a legal and moral duty to keep drunk drivers off the road. If a guest has a DUI crash, the host may face an expensive lawsuit, not to mention lifelong emotional pain. Helping reduce DUI may well save the guest’s life and others.”
Fontaine said the restaurant association has trained hundreds of bartenders and wait staff statewide on serving alcohol responsibly. “Hospitality professionals who have taken our course are well-schooled on helping prevent DUI,” he said.
MHRA and AMR offers the following advice to hosts of private parties:
- Never invite guests by saying your group plans to drink a great deal.
- Limit your own alcohol intake so you can determine whether guests are fit to drive and take steps to stop impaired guests from driving.
- Identify designated drivers right as couples or groups arrive. Point out: A designated driver isn’t one who drinks the least alcohol, but one who drinks zero alcohol.
- Reward designated drivers with a choice seat at the TV or first pass at the buffet.
- Take the keys from designated drivers. When you hand keys back as groups depart, double-check the designated drivers’ sobriety. Give them a glass with a color different from all other guests. The glass will remind designated drivers not to drink and other guests not to give them alcohol.
- If a guest has come alone and drinks alcohol, make a firm plan on how he or she gets home.
- Do not pressure guests to drink. There’s a big difference between “Would you like something to drink?” compared to “Come on, have a drink!”
- Provide a bartender so guests don’t over-serve themselves. Limit servings of alcohol by keeping glasses filled with ice. Don’t rush to refill guests’ glasses with alcohol.
- Put non-alcoholic drinks in the same place as the alcohol, displayed just as prominently.
- Serve lots of food. Provide water and juice plus “mocktails.” Mocktails are mixed drinks without alcohol in them. A “virgin” Bloody Mary looks and tastes much like the real thing.
- Except for the designated drivers, serve all beverages in the same size and shape glass. That way, those who aren’t drinking alcohol won’t feel or look different.
- Do not allow drinking contests. Ask your guests who are drinking to pace themselves, eat plenty of food and alternate alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks.
- Never serve alcohol to anyone less than 21 years of age. It’s illegal and has big penalties.
- If someone shows up drunk or gets drunk, tell the guest he or she has drunk too much and alcohol is off limits. Take the guest aside and offer a place to sleep it off. If another guest is a close friend of the intoxicated person, ask that other guest to help.
- Prevent falls by clearing walkways, stairs and porches and by providing adequate lighting. “WUI” (walking under the influence) can lead to serious injuries.
- Follow the example of numerous NFL stadiums and stop serving alcohol when the second half starts. Begin serving coffee and dessert. Remember, coffee does not restore sobriety.
- Never let anyone drive who has drunk any alcohol at all, no matter how little. Take the keys.
- Call a cab. Encourage the guest to stay overnight. Don’t let drunk guests out of your sight.
- As guests leave, help the designated drivers buckle up every passenger. Buckling up protects occupants from other drivers who may be intoxicated.