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CHP to be super watchful Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is turning into another holiday, and the California Highway Patrol worries that more people will be drinking and driving.

On Super Bowl Sunday in 2005, 462 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and 218 alcohol-related traffic collisions were reported, according to the CHP.

Those numbers climbed in 2006, with 481 people arrested and 242 collisions.

That's why CHP officials warned drivers to be cautious, drink responsibly or have a designated driver when they gather to celebrate the annual gridiron classic.

Tom Killian, a spokesman for the Modesto area CHP, said officers on patrol Sunday will be looking for drunken drivers.

"Everybody has these gatherings to celebrate, and inevitably the socializing will involve alcohol," Killian said. "It's just like a holiday."

Like other states across the country, California uses highway message boards, road signs and public awareness campaigns to encourage drivers to call 911 on their cell phones if they spot people who might be driving drunk.

In a continued effort, the CHP reminded drivers to be extra vigilant this weekend. The messages on overhead freeway signs and near rest stops are expected to be used this weekend to guard against impaired driving tied to Super Bowl parties.

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Drivers can call in anonymously and are asked to provide the vehicle's description, license plate number, location and direction of travel.

CHP Central Division Chief Scott MacGregor warned that drivers can become impaired even after one or two drinks.

"The real MVP on game day is the designated driver," MacGregor said in a news release. "They're the ones who help friends and families avoid embarrassment, keep their driver's licenses, avoid fines, stay out of jail and prevent senseless injury and death."

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at 578-2394 or rahumada@modbee.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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