State and local police will be out in force this Super Bowl weekend in anticipation of an increase in drunken drivers taking to the road before and after the big game.
Super Bowl Sunday long has been called an unofficial holiday. There's even a petition to the White House to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a recognized national holiday. The petition has garnered more than 12,000 signatures in a week.
Hudson Valley police figure, why wait for the official declaration? They are already planning -- and announcing -- the tough drunken-driving enforcement associated with other major holidays.
State Police Maj. Michael Kopy, the commander of Troop K, which patrols Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia counties, said the Super Bowl and parties for it have become such a big event -- in 2012, more than 110 million people watched the game -- that DWI problems stretch out over the entire weekend.
"We recognize this is as an all-day and all-night event and so the additional enforcement will not just be during the evening hours," he said. "You're going to see aggressive enforcement throughout the weekend into Monday morning. Drunken driving is a problem every day of the year, unfortunately. But this is one of the days we do see a significant increase in the number of people who drink and then get behind the wheel."
On Super Bowl Sunday in 2012, 43 percent of all road fatalities in the nation involved drunken drivers. Overall, drunken drivers are responsible for 31 percent of all road deaths during the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"It's simple now. There are no excuses. With taxi services and designated drivers, people shouldn't be driving drunk on Super Bowl Sunday," Watterson said.
"We will be out in force Sunday to enforce the DWI laws," he added. Watterson declined to say where sheriff's patrols would concentrate their efforts, so as not to tip drunken drivers about roads to avoid.
State Police started the extra DWI enforcement efforts Friday night, said Sgt. John Somoskey, who works out of the Hawthorne barracks. State Police will partner with Westchester County police in setting up checkpoints on main arteries and local roads in Westchester, he said.
"We'll be set up for fixed posts, roving patrols and the joint patrols with the county," Somoskey said. The DWI checkpoints will move around the county, he said.
In recent years, maximum enforcement on Super Bowl weekend has become standard procedure, Somoskey said.
"We'll be bouncing around with the checkpoints from Friday through Monday morning," he said.
The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said partygoers who plan on drinking should arrange for a ride home -- either from a designated driver or car service -- before heading out.
"From living rooms to stadiums, the message is the same: Plan ahead for a safe way home," MADD president Jan Withers said. "This Sunday is the time to take action and reverse this troubling trend of an uptick in drunken driving after the big game."