A new study has found that not all “designated drivers” are sober. For the study, researchers interviewed and did breath tests on over 1,000 people who identified themselves as designated drivers as they left bars in a city in Florida.
- 35% had measurable alcohol in their system
- 18% of those with alcohol in their system registered a blood alcohol limit (BAL) of 0.05 or higher
- The average age was 28
The study was conducted by Adam E. Barry, an assistant professor of health education at the University of Florida, and published in the July issue of The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The legal BAL in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is 0.08, and although the number of drinks it takes to get this level varies depending on body weight, gender, and time elapsed, there are dangerous consequences. A BAL of 0.05 can cause the following potential problems:
- Slowed eye movements
- Changes in what you see and in reaction time
- Trouble with certain types of steering tasks
- Difficulty processing information
Instead of staying sober, the designated driver is often the one who has drunk the least–or who has driven drunk before.
This is not just a teenage and college issue, as many allege: About 40 percent of the drivers involved in the study were not students. This puts the driver, everyone in the car, and everyone else on the road in great danger.
Some states are lobbying for the legal limit to be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05 (the standard in most developed countries) in hopes of decreasing the number of drivers who are drinking.