Study: Are designated drivers really staying off the juice?

A recent study shows that designated drivers do not stay away from alcohol even though people think they should.

Las Vegas is a city that is known as a worldwide destination with its first-class accommodations, cuisine, gambling, nightclubs and amusement parks. However, it is also known as a place where alcohol is easy to obtain and according to KNPR news, this means there are a lot of people who are driving under the influence. In fact, law enforcement made 4,500 arrests in 2014. One thing that people are encouraged to do to avoid drinking and driving is use a designated driver.

Looking at the sobriety of designated drivers

The University of Florida recently conducted a study that looked at the behaviors of people who are acting as designated drivers. The researchers decided to focus their efforts on weekends when there was a home football game. Gathering at local bars between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 2:30 A.M., they asked people who were leaving these establishments to participate.

After compiling the results, researchers found that alcohol was consumed by almost 40 percent of designated drivers and that blood alcohol content levels were more than .05 for 20 percent of that group. The survey covered over 1,000 people and 15 percent identified themselves as the designated motorist. The data was collected through the administration of a breath test, and a verbal interview where participants answered questions about their demographics and their behaviors concerning alcohol.

Why designated drivers drink

While the results may be surprising and a bit alarming, they are representative of a larger question and that is over what a designated driver is. NPR news states that while some may believe that a designated driver should remain completely sober, others may think that a little alcohol consumption is okay. People in the U.S. appear to be consistent in their opinion that if a designated driver does drink, their alcohol level should stay below the legal limit.

However, in Europe, the person who is the least drunk of the group is the one chosen as the driver. What should be pointed out though, is that while a person may not have reached the legal limit, the person's driving skills may be impaired and this can put everyone in the vehicle and on the road at risk of serious injury. Whether their BAC is .05 or .02, research has shown that impairment can still occur.

Drunk driving can shatter lives

Whether someone is a designated driver with alcohol in his or her system, or just someone who decides to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, it is often innocent people who are harmed. A drunk driving accident can leave victims struggling with medical bills, lost income and other issues. As such, they may want to discuss their concerns with an experienced attorney.