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The Super Bowl party has become as popular as the Fourth of July picnic. Go in any supermarket and you'll see a football-themed display of everything from chips and salsa to soft drinks. There is nothing quite like the biggest sporting and television event of the year.
Alcohol has also become a part of that celebration. The commercials for beer companies are often among the most memorable of the entire telecast.
Super Bowl weekend is a big sales weekend for all types of beverages, especially alcohol, because the parties are a time for food and fun.
Unfortunately, too many Georgians forget the importance of designating a driver or calling someone to give them a ride home. Super Bowl Sunday has also become a major day for arrests for driving under the influence. Even more disheartening is the number of fans who are losing their lives to the senseless act of drinking and driving.
An arrest for DUI is not like a speeding ticket, where the officer gives you a citation and you go home.
You will be placed in the back of a patrol car in handcuffs. There is a good chance your car will be impounded. At the jail, you'll be fingerprinted, photographed and booked into custody. You will likely spend the night in jail before you are given an opportunity to post bond.
It will cost you. The typical cost of the fines and court costs of a DUI is about $8,500. As I like to say, the most expensive hotel room in Georgia is cheaper than a DUI (and the food is better than you'll get in jail).
That $8,500 does not include the amount of money it might cost you if you lose your job. It doesn't include the price of embarrassment for your family or worse, the possible loss of custody of your children.
If your DUI involves a crash, you could face criminal charges if you injure or kill someone. You'll spend time in a Georgia prison.
It's not a pretty picture.
If you're having a Super Bowl party, make sure you have someone there as a designated driver who can take your guests home. Don't make that person an outcast; make them the guest of honor. Give them the biggest steak or burger or the first rack of ribs off the grill. Keep their glass filled with their favorite nonalcoholic beverage.
Being safe doesn't have to put a damper on your party. It sends a message to your guests that you care about them.
In 2010, nearly 1,200 people were killed in auto crashes in Georgia. That's 1,200 people who will not be home for Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays or even a Super Bowl party.
I ask for your help in making this Super Bowl Sunday one of the safest ever. Remember, fans don't let fans drive drunk!
Director, Governor's Office of Highway Safety