DENVER, CO – The most dangerous place to be during Super Bowl 50 isn’t between the Denver Broncos’ star defense and Cam Newton—it’s out on the road.
In a report released by Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS) about the drinking behavior of over 465,000 DUI offenders who were monitored 24/7 for alcohol consumption, drinking violations for the monitored group jumped an average of 15 percent nationwide on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to usual violation rates on a normal Sunday. The majority of those offenders are considered to be high-risk, repeat drunk drivers who knew they were being monitored and that there would be consequences, including incarceration.
Even more shockingly, drinking violations more than quadrupled on average in states and regions with a team in the big game. When the New England Patriots faced the Seattle Seahawks in 2015, violations among offenders in New England were five times higher than the rest of the U.S., and Washington saw a 59 percent increase over an ordinary Sunday. Officials in Colorado may have extra cause for concern: When the Denver Broncos played in Super Bowl XLVIII, drinking violations for monitored offenders in that state jumped an astonishing 191 percent compared to the rest of the country.
The findings are part of a troubling trend around the nation’s favorite pastime, according to AMS vice president Lou Sugo. “Alcohol and the big game go hand-in-hand, and when there’s drinking some people make bad decisions, especially about driving,” says Sugo. “The individuals we monitor are being tested every 30 minutes, and they know they’re going to be caught. You can imagine the rate of drinking for those who aren’t being monitored.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 43 percent of all traffic fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday in 2012 were caused by drunk driving, compared to an average of 31 percent during the rest of the year. NHTSA’s Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk campaign encourages people to make plans ahead of time that will prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.