When going out for a night of drinks, Illinois residents are encouraged to bring a designated driver, who is responsible for avoiding alcohol throughout the evening and for driving everyone home safety. However, several reports show that people should not always trust designated drivers to maintain their sobriety during a night out on the town.
Designated driver sobriety
A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs discovered that as many as 40 percent of designated drivers involved in the study had consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Approximately 18 percent of the designated drivers had a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent or higher. Although this level is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent in Illinois, it is still high enough to impair a person’s ability to drive, putting the lives of other people on the road at risk.
Although he allegedly drank six beers and had marijuana, a 20-year-old Virginia man admitted to accepting the role of designated driver at a friend’s birthday party, and attempted to drive his 24-year-old friend home. According to the Sun Chronicle, the designated driver lost control of the vehicle, causing the passenger’s side of the vehicle to slam into a pole and then hit a cement bridge. The passenger died from a massive head injury. The driver faces five charges, including motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk. Breath tests show that he had a blood alcohol content of 0.11 percent, and he was texting on his cellphone before the accident occurred.
A look at driving impairment
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, drivers with a BAC of 0.02 percent may experience judgment loss, reduced vision and the inability to perform two tasks simultaneously. With a BAC of 0.05 percent, a driver’s psychomotor performance becomes significantly impaired. They also display compromised reaction time, visual perception, ability to track moving objects and response to hazardous driving situations.
Last year, the National Transportation Safety Board submitted a recommendation that states reduce their legal driving limit from the current 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent, after considering the extent of impairment that takes place in a person with a BAC of 0.05 percent. Many believe that lowering the legal limit may help to decrease the number of lives lost due to drunk driving.
Designated drivers are meant to provide safe transportation for their intoxicated passengers. However, they many present a significant risk to other drivers and pedestrians, as well as their passengers if they themselves have had a few drinks during the evening’s festivities.