The person chosen to be the designated driver on a night out may still be too drunk to drive safely, a new study has suggested.
Research carried out at the University of Florida – published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs – revealed that more than a third of the designated driver cases it examined were intoxicated to the point where their driving could be impaired.
Adam Barry, assistant professor of health education and behaviour at the university, said it is unclear precisely why designated drivers choose to drink on a night out.
However, he suggested one possible reason may be the belief among some that if they are experienced drinkers, their ability to drive will not be significantly affected.
In addition, he said people who have been consuming alcohol will probably be unable to accurately gauge their sobriety, while group dynamics may also play a part.
“That’s the insidious nature of alcohol – when you feel buzzed, you’re drunk,” Mr Barry commented.
“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.”
According to government figures, drink-driving was a factor in 15 per cent of all road fatalities in the UK during 2011.
The Department for Transport’s THINK! campaign warns that being convicted of driving while intoxicated can also have a number of other consequences.
For example, it states that a person can be banned from driving for at least 12 months and end up with a criminal record, as well as a hefty fine of up to £5,000.
THINK! also reminds drivers that a drink-driving conviction can lead to a motorist being forced to pay higher car insurance premiums in the future – and potentially the loss of their job.
“By drinking and driving, you risk your life , those of your passengers and others on the road,” the group warns.