Choosing a designated driver can seem like a good idea, but studies have shown that the method of choosing one is not. Often designated drivers are chosen because they are the least intoxicated member of the group or simply because they have proven themselves to be successful at driving drunk in the past. In fact, 35 percent of them have a BAC sufficient to impair their driving. These are the findings of a recent University of Florida study after breath testing and interviewing more than 1000 customers of bars and restaurants in a Southeastern college town.
Half of the designated drivers who had taken a drink had a .05 or higher blood alcohol level, which is the new recommended legal drunk driving threshold. The National Transportation Safety Board has suggested that all 50 states implement it. The U.S. does, in fact, have one of the highest standards in the world when it comes to BAC at 0.08, which is the current level. Lowering it was actually recommended all the way back to the 1980's by the American Medical Association.
The question still remains as to why a designated driver would drink in the first place, and the most prevalent answer seems to be that the group of drinkers chose their designated driver after the consumption of a few drinks. These decisions were usually determined by past successes while drinking and driving.
Although the study was performed in South Florida, these numbers could easily apply to North Carolina as well. You could very well be the best driver on the road in Harnett, Johnston or Cumberland County, but you have to remember to watch out for the other guy. Drinking and driving accidents can affect anybody on today's crowded roads, and therefore you could find yourself needing help with a personal injury claim to help you pick up the pieces of your life and cover resultant expenses.
Source: News Medical, "35% of designated drivers have high blood-alcohol levels that impair driving", June 11, 2013