City Desk

Enter Soberman: Superhero to Roam Bars, Stop Drunk Driving


Imagine you're at, oh, Public Bar in Dupont late one Saturday night, drinking a Bud, dancing with whoever. All of a sudden an artificially buff man dressed in a red spandex superhero costume (with underwear on the outside, 'natch) loudly introduces himself as Soberman. He wants to know: Do you know how you'll get home?

Soon, this could be your reality.

Checkpoint Strikeforce—a multistate initiative to stop drunk driving—launched its latest campaign in the Washington area Thursday, and Soberman is the not-so-subtle star of it all.

Soberman—who would not give me his real name at a press event, though one of his bosses told me he's an actor by day—will randomly show up at bars in D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland. He'll be accompanied by a police officer as he approaches unsuspecting patrons, asking them if they have a designated driver, cash for a cab, or plans to take public transportation. According to the campaign, which cited the National Highway Administration, in 2011 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the District involved alcohol-related crashes.

If Soberman likes your transportation method, he'll give you a prize, which could be anything from headphones to Macklemore concert tickets.

It is unclear how often Soberman will be roaming bars, but the campaign runs through New Year's Eve and includes a $250,000 TV and print ad buy. The District Department of Transportation contributed $125,000 to the campaign.

Soberman, who say's he's "faster than a speeding Buick" with "powers of sober-detection," made his party debut Thursday at The Bullpen outside Nationals Stadium.

Photo by Perry Stein

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  • drez

    Wait. DC is paying for this?