Not all designated drivers are teetotalers. Often it's the least inebriated member of a social group who is handed the keys to drive the rest of the partiers home. According to a newly-published study, a sizeable number of designated drivers drink, and more than a few would fail an alcohol chemical test.
The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs report claims 40 percent of drivers designated to transport intoxicated friends imbibe some alcohol before driving. A more disturbing statistic from the study - one in five designated drivers is legally impaired.
An official with the Pennsylvania DUI Association is an advocate of designated drivers, as long as the drinking chaperons are doing their jobs. The association credits designated drivers with saving the lives of more than 50,000 people every year.
At least one Pennsylvanian has experienced disappointment and near death for placing faith in a designated driver. One man said he trusted a designated driver who had a few drinks only to end up in a
. The man said he has changed his definition of designated drivers to one that includes no alcohol.
Alcohol selling and serving establishments also can be held liable when intoxicated patrons harm themselves or someone else in a drunk driving accident. To comply with dram shop liability laws, many bars have instituted safety programs to prevent impaired drinkers from driving.
One Harrisburg bar goes as far as treating designated drivers to free non-alcoholic beverages to encourage them to stay sober. The gesture also spares the bar from having to call a taxi or come up with another way to get drunk patrons home safely.
More than 400 people died in drunk-driving accidents on Pennsylvania roads in 2012. Grieving families of those victims often endured emotional trials in the pursuit of criminal justice. Some victims' family members also filed wrongful death claims for compensation from negligent defendants.
Source: whptv.com, "
Designated drivers drinking too? Survey shows for 40 percent, the answer is yes
" Jesse Knutson, Jun. 14, 2013