Designated Drivers Also Drink and Drive, Study Shows

New Study Shows 2 out of 5 “Designated Drivers” Also Drink and Drive

designated drivers
Researchers from the University of Florida went to a small Florida town to conduct research into how many people drink and drive. They interviewed and breath-tested over 1,000 partiers at a bar, who were mostly white, male, and college-aged.

What they discovered was that, in that group, nearly 40% of the so-called designated drivers would not think twice about having a drink or two themselves, leading them to drink and drive.

Although the study is far from definitive, the study shows that many designated drivers also drink and drive, when they should be abstaining.

“While more of the designated drivers didn’t drink than did drink, which is a good thing, you have people being selected because they’re the least drunk, or the least intoxicated or they’ve driven drunk before,” said study author Adam Barry, an assistant professor at the University of Florida. “The only real safe option is to completely abstain.”

In the study, 165 of the 1,100 breathalyzer participants said they were designated drivers. Of those designated drivers, 108 of them, or 65%, had no alcohol at all in their systems. Another 28 of the participants had a blood alcohol level between 0.02 and 0.049. The other 29 designated drivers had a BAC of just 0.05 – the current legal limit is 0.08.

However, with the recent proposal to change the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05, the findings are troubling. And in many states, if you drink and drive, you can be arrested if you show signs of impairment, regardless of your blood alcohol level. Several countries have already adopted 0.05 as the legal blood alcohol limit, while Russia set their level at 0.02, and Japan has a zero-tolerance policy.

Barry added in the study that it was tricky to diagnose your own level of intoxication after a drink or two. “That’s the insidious nature of alcohol – when you feel buzzed, you’re drunk.”

It is difficult to put a specific limit on the number of drinks a designated driver can be allowed, and still drive safely. Men and women vary in their ability to process alcohol – a woman’s BAC can reach 0.05 with just one drink – while the amount of food eaten while drinking, as well as the person’s body mass index, can all affect how the body processes alcohol.

“it would be difficult for me to make a blanket statement that a certain amount is OK,” James Lange, an alcohol researcher and coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drug Initiatives at San Diego State University, said. “The easiest recommendation is that they don’t drink at all.”

According to the CDC, nearly one-third of all traffic related deaths are caused when someone chooses to drink and drive. DUI and drunk driving cause 11,000 deaths each year.

In South Carolina, If you Drink and Drive …

The primary determining factors of DUI are whether:

  • the defendant was driving,

  • the accused was driving a motorized vehicle,

  • he/she was on the road, and

  • he/she was materially and appreciably impaired at the time of driving such that it impaired your judgment and ability to drive with a steady hand.

While some are more easily determined than others, the most vital question appears to be whether the defendant was actually materially and appreciably impaired. If you choose to drink and drive, you could face serious consequences, especially in a state as strict as South Carolina.

If you Drink and Drive, the Strom Law Firm Can Help You with Your Case

If you face DUI charges, whether it is your first charge, or felony DUI, you could feel alone and afraid. Just because you drink and drive, especially if you are not the designated driver, does not automatically mean that you are guilty. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm have helped people who face DUI charges since 1996. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.



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