A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that one out of every five designated drivers is, in fact, intoxicated.
Our Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyers understand that about 40 percent copped to drinking at least one or two drinks during the evening before getting behind the wheel. One out of five drank enough to be drunk.
The study, conducted by researchers at Rutgers tracked designated driver trends near the University of Florida, following some 1,100 bar patrons, with about 165 elected to be the designated drivers over the course of three months. These individuals were tested six random times during that time.
Eighteen percent of those designated drivers blew a 0.05 percent blood-alcohol content or higher. Of course, this is below the current legal threshold of 0.08 percent BAC, but it still may be enough to warrant an arrest if the officer determines you are impaired anyway (though that case will be tough to prove in court). The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing states to adopt tougher DUI standards by lowering the legal BAC to 0.05 percent.
The sample of the university was fairly narrow in scope. It as 73 percent white, 63 percent male and 65 percent college students. These means that not all designated drivers may be following the same trends as described in the study, but certainly the study results warrant further study and perhaps a more effective educational campaign about the role of a designated driver.
It's estimated that every year, some 73 million Americans serve as the designated driver.
We certainly understand that being the designated driver can be difficult. Practicing self-restraint when everyone else around you is cutting lose and having a great time doing takes strong self-control.
To be clear, there is absolutely nothing illegal or wrong about having a drink or two before you get behind the wheel. The key is to ensure that you haven't crossed the threshold of impairment. An officer may be more apt to stop your vehicle if you have a car full of rowdy passengers.
The study concludes that designated drivers need to be educated that accepting those duties means abstaining from drinking entirely. Of course, it's not a bad idea to significantly limit yourself. You want to be able to look after your friends. You want to be able to get everyone home safely. But there is no law that says the designated driver can't drink anything at all. While this is the best way to avoid a DUI conviction, it's not your legal obligation.
Here are some tips to consider if you are named the designated driver:
- Plan ahead whenever you are going to socialize somewhere where alcohol is being served;
- Decide ahead of time who will and who will not drink alcohol during the event (or if you do plan to drink, decide ahead of time what your limit will be - and stick to that);
- Take turns being the designated driver;
- Larger groups should consider having more than one designated driver.