Packer fans warned off drunk driving with Super Bowl blues

Reuters News

2/3/2012 12:43:46 AM - Reuters News

MILWAUKEE, Wis (Reuters) - Many Green Bay Packers fans may be driven to drink this weekend as they watch the Super Bowl without their beloved team after its historic season came to an end abruptly three weeks ago.

"I'm not going to be crying in my beer but I'm so uninterested in the game that I believe there might be a little more drinking going on," said Brad Melichar, a 24-year-old lifelong fan of the green and gold.

But the prospects of Green Bay Packer fans deadening their pain with a few too many alcoholic beverages during Sunday's Super Bowl has caused the state's Department of Transportation to issue a sobering directive.

"Since the Green Bay Packers won't be playing for the Lombardi Trophy this year, fans may be tempted to drown their disappointment by drinking too much on Super Bowl Sunday. That could be dangerous, or even deadly, if they decide to drive," said State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable.

Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunk driving in the country, according to a nationwide study in 2009. About a fourth of all Wisconsin adults said they have driven under the influence of alcohol during the previous 12 months, according to the study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The defending Super Bowl champion Packers and their fans, who were enjoying a statistically record-breaking campaign punctuated by a 15-1 regular season record, were pushed out of the playoffs on January 13 by the New York Giants at Lambeau Field in a 37-20 upset.

"After they lost, I had to re-evaluate. I love the Packers, but should I love them this much?" said Jake Andrus, a 31-year-old fan from the town of Oconomowoc. "It was crazy."

The Giants, who then defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis this weekend.

"If my girlfriend didn't want to see the commercials, we probably would skip going to a Super Bowl party and go snowboarding instead," said Melichar, a Port Washington resident.

To remind drivers of the dangers of drunken driving, Wisconsin's DOT will air a new television commercial in the state during the game and throughout the month of February.

The commercial, funded with a federal grant, will feature freestyle snowmobilers performing acrobatic stunts.

"It would be outrageously crazy to perform snowmobile stunts while drunk and it would be just as ridiculously reckless to drive a car or truck while drunk," said the department.

Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill last month that would make any person's fourth drunk-driving offense a felony.

Wisconsin is the only state in the country where the first drunk driving offense is not a criminal offense. Wisconsin is also only one of 12 states that do not allow sobriety checkpoints.

(Reporting By Brendan O'Brien, Editing By Peter Bohan)