WASHINGTON – Super Bowl Sunday may be one of the deadliest days for alcohol-related traffic deaths across the nation, but county police and sheriff’s departments report that this Sunday will be “business as usual” in Maryland.
Only Montgomery County Police said they plan sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols on Sunday.
“We know that this is a day that people celebrate, and celebrate with alcohol,” said Lucille Baur, a Montgomery police spokeswoman.
Most other departments around the state were like Baltimore County. While county Cpl. Vickie Warehime said her department is “well aware” that the Super Bowl offers opportunities for drunken driving, the department will not set up checkpoints or put extra officers on the street.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapters around the state said Friday they were not particularly upset by the weekend plans, acknowledging the limited resources of police departments.
“I can’t say anything bad about them (police),” said Leslie Thomas, executive director of the MADD chapter that covers Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. “They’re trying to do 150 percent.”
The National Coalition Against Drunk Driving said alcohol-related traffic deaths “typically rise sharply” on Super Bowl Sunday. Over the last six years, an average of 59 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents on Super Bowl Sunday. The increase was particularly large last year when 67 people died nationwide in drunken driving accidents, accounting for more than half of all traffic deaths that day.
But Dave Elzey, president of the Lower Eastern Shore MADD Chapter, said that in his 10 years with MADD he has seen “very little” drunken driving death on Super Bowl Sunday.
Capt. Jim Phillips of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Department that the county does not have more drunken driving fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday. He said Sunday will be “business as usual” for his department.
Prince George’s County had the most alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the state in 2000, with 28 deaths, and the second-most in 1999, with 23, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.
Prince George’s County Police Sgt. Tora Coates said the department will not set up sobriety checkpoints on Super Bowl Sunday, but will run its “normal” Saturation Patrol. The department could not confirm whether the county had any drunk-driving deaths in the last 2 years.
Anne Arundel County, whose 17 drunken-driving deaths ranked third-highest in 2000 and 1999, will not take extra measures Sunday, Officer Charles Ravenell said.
Thomas, of MADD, defended the police, saying they compare Super Bowl Sunday to prom and graduation nights, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Thanksgiving — and plan their resources accordingly. She noted that central Maryland has had no drunken-driving deaths on Super Bowl Sunday in the past couple of years.
Frederick County has not had a Super Bowl Sunday death in his 13 years on the force, said sheriff’s department Sgt. Tom Winebrenner. Accordingly, it has no special policing plans, he said.
Maryland State Police Sgt. Thornnie Rouse said this Super Bowl will be quieter than last year, when the Baltimore Ravens played.
He said the state is likely to record one fatality from Super Bowl celebrating, but that the department will not put out any extra personnel or set up any sobriety checkpoints.
Police will be running their regular saturation patrols statewide where drunken driving arrests and accidents are most frequent, he said. For example, officers will more frequently patrol Route 1 in College Park, the site of many bars and accidents, from about 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
“We’re big into DWIs,” Sgt. Rouse said.