Designated Drunk Drivers?


And you thought that your unfortunate friend whose turn it was to be the designated driver wasn’t supposed to be having any fun that night. Well, a new study released on June 10th suggests that nearly 40 percent of designated drivers may be drunk themselves.

Researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville tested the blood alcohol level of 1,071 bar goers, mostly “white male college students,” between 10:00 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. on the night of the study. Of the 1,071 tested, 165 identified themselves as designated drivers. The rest, I suppose, you could call the designated drinkers.

As you may have guessed, those who were not designated drivers had blood alcohol content levels much higher than those who were supposed to remain sober. It makes sense. They found a designated driver so that they could drink.

Of the designated drivers, however, 35 percent admitted drinking alcohol at some point in the evening. About 17 percent of designated drivers registered blood alcohol contents of between 0.02 and 0.049 percent. About 18 percent of designated drivers registered blood alcohol contents of 0.05 percent or higher.

Although those numbers may not be reaching the current legal limit of 0.08 percent, they may soon be. Recall, there is currently efforts to reduce the legal limit to 0.05.

A few questions come to mind after reading the study. First of all, would people trust that their designated drivers get them home safely with a 0.02 percent blood alcohol content? What about 0.05 percent? Anything below a 0.08 percent? The reason the current limit is 0.08 percent is because, generally, that is the point at which a person has trouble operating a vehicle as a sober person would. Not 0.02 percent. Not 0.05 percent.

Second, what about Southern California? Or the rest of the country for that matter? The study was conducted on a Friday night in the college town full of “white male college” football lovers, likely before the weekend’s big game, in the “bar and restaurant” district. I’d want to see a more comprehensive study, one that covers, say, other cities or a different demographic.

If this study teaches us one thing, it’s: be weary of your college attending, beer pounding, football adoring, bro who volunteers to be the designated driver… at least in Florida.

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