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When designated drivers drink too much

Posted On April 22, 2015

According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, the state of Illinois saw 321 alcohol-related automotive fatalities on its roadways in 2012. Many people try and minimize their risk of involvement in an impaired driving accident by utilizing a designated driver. The term refers to an individual who agrees not to drink on the basis of getting the other members of the party home safely.

What happens, however, when the designated driver decides not to remain sober? A car accident attorney in Chicago recognizes that this is a growing problem in Illinois and across the nation, and one that warrants a closer look.

Sobering statistics

The Washington Times reported on a 2013 study by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs that raised red flags about just how sober today’s designated drivers truly are. Conducted over a three-month period, the study assessed 1,071 bar patrons, 165 of whom were admitted designated drivers.

Among the troubling findings was the fact that nearly 40 percent of those who considered themselves designated drivers consumed alcohol after accepting the responsibility. Furthermore, 18 percent of those designated drivers registered at 0.05 percent on the breathalyzer or higher, which the report considered the impairment zone. These figures are troubling to all motorists across the state and beyond, as well as to a car accident attorney in Chicago.

Misconceptions about safety

Utah Public Radio reported that surveys of American drivers suggest many designated drivers approve of alcohol consumption if the driver doesn’t exceed the legal limit. This is concerning for Illinois motorists, as a role that once implied sobriety is now often reserved for the least-intoxicated member of a group. The UPR story further asserted that some studies suggest driver impairment in individuals with blood alcohol levels as low as 0.02 percent. This suggests that even those within the legal confines of the law sometimes exhibit dangerous driving behaviors as a result of alcohol consumption.

Beyond the designated driver: safe alternatives

It is common for a car accident attorney in Chicago to field questions as to what should be done when designated drivers don’t stick to their word. Taking public transportation in the form of a taxi or bus is often an option in and around Chicago and in many parts of the state. Equally important, however, is raising awareness about the fact that the designated driver title should be reserved exclusively for those who completely abstain from alcohol consumption.

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