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Police encourage drunk Super Bowl partiers to 'punt' the keys

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah law enforcers are using this weekend's big game to remind residents not to drink and drive.

The Super Bowl is Sunday. And with that comes a bevy of Super Bowl parties at homes, restaurants and bars across the state. And while the Super Bowl may be the biggest football game of the year, police agencies want residents to remember that drunken driving isn't a game.

From Friday through Sunday night, DUI saturation patrols will be conducted in Utah and across the country. One reason the Super Bowl has the potential to keep officers busy is because typical Super Bowl partygoers start early and end late.

"The pre-game is almost six hours," Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Terry Fritz said. "It's a prolonged party."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has become known for its visual campaigns, including its latest: "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." A part of that effort, officials introduced a special set of pool balls Friday at Fats Grill and Pool, 2182 Highland Drive. Each ball includes pictures to remind people not to drink and drive.

The cue ball has a graphic of a drunken driver and the campaign slogan printed on the ball. The eight ball has a ".08, game over" printed on it, signifying the measurement when a person's blood-alcohol content is considered legally drunk and they are not allowed to drive.

The other balls all have vehicles printed on them depicting what could happen when a drunken driver (the white ball) gets behind the wheel and tries to drive. The balls will be available for patrons at Fats and several other establishments to shoot pool with through the weekend.

If Super Bowl partiers need to go to the store at halftime to buy more items or if they have drank a lot during the game and are ready to go home after, police hope the campaign will remind them to "punt the keys" or get a designated driver.

"We know it's going to be a fun time. We enjoy it as well. This is a good reminder to be safe," Fritz said.

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com