According to a recent study of 1,701 bar patrons, more than one-third of designated drivers who left bars in a southeastern college town had been drinking. Of these 165 self-identified designated drivers, 35% had a breath alcohol level at or above .02%, including 18% of drivers who had a breath alcohol level that “significantly inhibited driving ability and psychomotor function” (.05% or greater).
According to the authors, “these findings identify the need for consensus across researcher, layperson, and communication campaigns that a [designated driver] must be someone who has abstained from drinking entirely. This is especially important considering that alcohol-related driver impairment, such as divided attention, is further exacerbated by the unsafe actions of drunken passengers (e.g., roughhousing with the driver).”
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