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1 in 3 'Designated Drivers' Admits to Drinking

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

When you're the designated driver, do you drink anyway? If so, you're not the only irresponsible one. According to a new study by Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida in Gainesville, many designated drivers are far from sober.

Barry and his team conducted breath tests on 1,071 bar patrons between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.

Buckle up and get ready for a bumpy ride, because the findings are pretty disturbing.

Of the 165 participants who identified themselves as designated drivers, 35% admitted that they had consumed alcohol during the course of the evening.

Within that group, about half -- or 17% of all designated drivers -- registered blood-alcohol levels of between 0.02% and 0.049%. Another 18% tested at 0.05% or higher, which puts them dangerously close to most states' legal blood-alcohol limit.

Barry's obvious yet troubling conclusion: "If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they're chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past -- successful meaning got home in one piece.... That's disconcerting."

No kidding. For the party people who still don't get it -- even after all those public service announcements recited by TV celebrities: "Buzzed driving is drunk driving. The more you know."

OK, so that's not entirely accurate, as 0.08% is the legal limit for drunken driving in most of the country. But it's not safe to get behind the wheel when you hover anywhere near that number.

The government knows that, too. The National Transportation Safety Board and several states want to reduce the legal limit to 0.05%, which is still far higher than the 0.02% allowed in countries like Russia and Sweden and the zero-tolerance policy in Japan, reports The Car Connection.

Barry's study may be criticized for not having a diverse sample population. It only tested people in a Florida college town's "restaurant and bar district" before Friday night football games.

Still, it's a sobering warning for young drinkers and their disappointed parents alike: Kids, check yo' self before you (and your not-so-sober DD) wreck yo' self.

If you, like many college kids, can't keep from hitting the bottle to excess, don't drive. Call a cab.

If you see a designated driver on the road who seems impaired, there are certain steps you can take to prevent their DUI from taking a tragic turn.

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