Designated drivers often consume alcohol before driving, study finds

When going to a bar or a party at a friend's house, many people these days will ensure they have a safe ride home by relying on a designated driver. For most people, the term "designated driver" likely refers to an individual who will refrain from drinking to make certain that those riding with him or her are able to get home safely.

Unfortunately, a new study has revealed that many so-called designated drivers do not take the role as seriously as we would like to imagine. The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, examined the behaviors of 165 designated drivers.

The researchers found that 40 percent of the individuals who were considered designated drivers drank alcohol before getting on the road. In addition, approximately one-fifth of the designated drivers consumed alcohol in sufficient quantities to make them impaired when behind the wheel.

The researchers used a 0.05 blood alcohol level to signify impairment, as some experts - including the National Transportation Safety Board - have suggested motorists actually become impaired when their BAC is lower than the legal limit. In fact, the NTSB recently suggested that states lower the legal drinking limit to 0.05, in an effort to lower the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers across the country.

Drunk driving accidents are all too common in Florida

Sadly, drunk driving continues to be a frequent cause of auto accidents in Florida. In 2011, there were over 10,000 collisions in Florida in which alcohol was a confirmed cause of the crash, according to theFlorida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In addition, there were another over 7,000 accidents in which it was suspected that alcohol played a role in causing the collision.

In total, there were 920 traffic fatalities in Florida in which alcohol was a suspected factor in 2011. In addition, another over 11,800 people sustained personal injuries in such collisions that year.

Across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 10,228 people died in the United States as a result of drunk drivers in 2010. As a result of these significant statistics, people should take precautions before getting in the car at the end of a night out with friends. Even if someone has agreed to act as a designated driver, if you are uncomfortable with his or her perceived ability to operate the vehicle, consider another way home.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by an impaired driver, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.