Super Bowl Safety: Gameday Drinking

Super Bowl safe drinking practices can keep your party safe and fun

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

"Fans don’t let fans drive drunk." That modification of the familiar quote comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). And it's a timely reminder with Super Bowl XLIX coming up.

Super Bowl parties offer opportunities for friends, food, drinks and a chance to cheer on your favorite team. It’s the drinks part of the equation that could be problematic for some people.

The NHTSA reported in 2012 that, on Super Bowl Sunday alone, drunk driving was connected to 40 percent of highway fatalities. In comparison, the alcohol-related fatality rate for all of 2012 was 31 percent, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

"There are several factors that can lead to excessive alcohol consumption when it comes to events like the Super Bowl," said Jason Rice, MD, an internist at Loyola University Health System in Chicago, in an interview with dailyRx News. "Among the more apparent of these is the party atmosphere where several people are drinking."

Dr. Rice said it can be easy to get carried away during the Super Bowl.

"When drinking in groups, it is easy to get carried away," he said. "The inherent emotions attached to sporting events can also increase alcohol consumption, whether it’s celebrating a big play from your favorite team or ‘drowning your sorrows’ following a poor performance."

Anyone who might drink during the Super Bowl should have transportation arranged beforehand, Dr. Rice said.

"In addition, since many people will be watching the big game away from home in bars or friends’ homes, transportation is always a concern," he said. "I always stress the importance of public transportation, taxis and designated drivers when it comes to any event where alcohol consumption is likely to be prevalent."

Whether you're the host or the guest, here's some information to help keep everyone safe.

What’s in a Drink?

Alcohol content can vary widely according to what you drink. A light beer, for instance, may have almost as much alcohol as regular beer, according to the NIAAA. For comparison, a regular beer typically has an alcohol content of around 5 percent, but some light beers contain as much as 4.2 percent alcohol.

Drinks can also vary in alcohol content according to the strength of the drink and whether they include mixers or more than one kind of alcohol. In the US, a “standard” drink is 14 grams of pure alcohol. The NIAAA says the equivalent of 14 grams of alcohol is equal to the following:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits like whiskey, vodka or rum

On a Binge

The NIAAA notes that moderate alcohol consumption is up to one standard drink per day for women and up to two standard drinks per day for men. Binge drinking occurs when you have a pattern of intermittent heavy drinking.

Women who drink four drinks within two hours and men who drink five drinks within two hours are on a binge, according to the NIAAA.

Past research has tied binge drinking to problems like injuries, alcohol poisoning, heart disease and liver disease.

Limiting Drinks

Some people should limit themselves or abstain from drinking altogether. If you plan to drive or operate machinery or take medicines that might interact with alcohol, you belong in this group, according to the NIAAA.

You should also abstain if you have a medical condition that could be aggravated by alcohol, such as liver or kidney disease. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should also steer clear.

If you do drink on Super Bowl Sunday or at any other time, the NHTSA says you should pace yourself. Alternate alcohol with other beverages like water or tea, eat enough food and slowly sip your drink.

When You're the Host

As a host, you can offer drink options that are nonalcoholic and make sure there is plenty of food. The NHTSA suggests that you put away the booze and start serving coffee and dessert at the end of the third quarter of the game.

Remember that if someone leaves your party and gets in an alcohol-related accident, you might be prosecuted, according to the NHTSA. Take keys away from anyone who is not sober enough to drive and find that person a place to sleep it off. Call a cab yourself if the guest seems reluctant to do so.

Drinking and Driving — Don't

Alcohol affects your judgment, coordination, memory and reaction times. Depending on the individual, even one drink can have an effect. The NIAAA says alcohol enters your bloodstream immediately and can have an effect within 10 minutes.

Super Bowl Sunday can be riskier even for nondrinking drivers because alcohol-related accidents do go up on that day. Of course, if you drink, the NHTSA says you shouldn’t drive. And always buckle up to protect yourself from drunk drivers.

Transportation Options

Designate a driver for yourself or your group before the party begins. You might arrange alternate transportation, such as having someone pick you up.

Call a cab or ask someone who is sober to give you a ride home. Many communities also have sober ride programs.


Review Date: 
January 22, 2015
Last Updated:
January 27, 2015