Super Bowl Sunday — once considered a night with a high number of drunken drivers on the road — has become much like any other night, according to local police officials.
The era of Super Bowl parties and the accompanying imbibing for many years prompted police to put out extra patrols to look specifically for drunken drivers.
While some local police officers will take part in special patrols, most officials say the number of arrests on the evening of the Super Bowl isn't what it used to be.
Valparaiso police Sgt. Mike Grennes, who leads the Porter County Drunk Driving Task Force, said every department in Porter County will have officers on the road on special patrols paid by various grants.
But the number of arrests on Super Bowl Sunday has been declining.
"I hope it's because the media attention and the education we've been doing," Grennes said. "And there's the fear of arrest. But we hope our message is getting out to the public."
Whiting Police Chief Stephen Miller said the city typically doesn't have any issues on Super Bowl Sunday. He said police officers will make periodic passes at taverns, but no extra patrols will be assigned.
“It's a pretty quiet night,” Miller said. “I don't recall anything happening since I've been here.”
Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said the department has increased patrols for sporting events in the past if the team is local. For example, more patrols were needed when the Chicago Blackhawks played for the Stanley Cup.
“There have been times because the team is from Chicago we seem to have quite a bit more (incidents),” he said. “Since both teams are out of state, we don't anticipate a lot of problems.”
Lansing police are not planning added patrols for Super Bowl Sunday. Neither are police in Lowell.
"It's pretty quiet down here (on Super Bowl Sunday)," Lowell Police Chief John Shelhart said. "People go to friends' houses. There's not a lot of bar traffic. We're praying it's the same this year."
Schererville Police Chief David Dowling compared the Super Bowl to holidays. He understands more people will either go out or host gatherings. He said the department will have higher staffing levels on that day, but he didn't have any areas of concern.
Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said he suggests people to limit the amount of alcohol they drink. Grennes suggested those who attend parties should make plans to get home safely before they go to the party — not after they start drinking.
In Calumet City, police are conducting a roadside safety check on for drunken drivers and seat-belt-law violators.
"We are reminding everyone that if you choose to drink and drive in Calumet City this weekend, you will lose," said Chief Edward Gilmore in a prepared statement.
Some tips from Gilmore include:Call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely
- Report drunken drivers to law enforcement
- Spend the night where the activity is being held and sleep it off
- Always wear your seat belt — it's the best defense against a drunken driver