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Many designated drivers drink anyway

Before going out for a night on the town, many people ask a friend to act as a designated driver. The intention, of course, is not only to avoid an arrest for drunk driving, but also to stay safe and help prevent deadly car accidents.

Unfortunately, a new report indicates that many designated drivers are not taking their duties seriously. According to a study published recently in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, approximately 40 percent of designated drivers consume some alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Even more alarming, about 20 percent of designated drivers drink to the level of impairment.

The study involved a survey of just over 1,000 bar patrons over a three month period. About 165 of those who were surveyed were acting as designated drivers. Most of those surveyed were white, college going men.

Although the drunk driving limit is .08 BAC, studies have shown that the driving ability of some people begins to be impaired at levels as low as .02 BAC. Of the designated drivers surveyed, about 17 percent blew a .02 to .049 reading on a Breathalyzer. Eighteen percent had a BAC reading of .05 or higher. Although the difference between .02 and .05 BAC readings may seem small, research indicates that it can mean a big difference in motor function and reaction time.

Of course, the best way to prevent car accidents due to impairment is to make sure that designated drivers take their duties seriously and do not have any alcoholic drinks. 

Source: CBS News, “Study: One-fifth of designated drivers impaired behind wheel,” Michelle Castillo, June 10, 2013

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