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In the last several decades, the term “designated driver” has become a buzzword for responsible drinking. When friends go out, everyone should agree ahead of time that one person remains sober and is accountable for ensuring everyone gets home safely. However, not everyone understands entirely what it means to be a designated driver. Read on to get some tips about committing to a designated driver plan—and find out how to stick to it.

A Brief History of the Designated Driver Movement

Designated drivers are a relatively recent phenomenon. Alcohol.org informs us that the Harvard Alcohol Project was launched in 1988 to address the epidemic of drunk driving accidents and fatalities the country still experiences—over one auto accident per hour occurs due to a drunk driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control or CDC.

The blog describes how the Harvard study introduced to the North American public mind the notion of a designated driver who would abstain from drinking while taking responsibility for getting others home safely.

Also, when MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) was created in 1980, it continued to spread the word about the importance of having a designated driver.

For more statistics on drunk driving in the US, consult this CDC fact sheet.

Tips on Committing to a Designated Driver

At first, you may feel uncomfortable about being the only one in a group of drinkers not to drink. To make sure you and your friends stick to the plan, here are some tips to follow:

  1. Remember that a designated driver agrees not to drink at all during the occasion. Even the smallest amount of alcohol could affect your ability to drive safely. The only safe amount of alcohol to have in your system before driving is ZERO. If you plan on being the designated driver, you should refrain from consuming alcohol and remain sober throughout the day,
  2. Select the designated driver beforehand. Alcohol.org warns groups not to wait until the evening of drinking progresses to determine “who is the least intoxicated.” It’s a good idea to have a rotation schedule in a place where the designated driver changes each time, and nobody feels resentful of the role.
  3. Don’t use any medication that could also impair your driving when you get behind the wheel, according to NIAAA, certain medicines contain up to 10% alcohol. Laxatives and cough syrup could have higher alcohol concentrations.
  4. Bring a Plan B. In case you need help getting everyone home, have phone numbers of friends and loved ones handy, and names ride-share companies. The Alcohol.org blog also tells us there are professional designated drivers available in some areas.
  5. Eat a large meal beforehand, the alcohol.org blog suggests. You’ll already be full and will be less tempted to drink. The blog makes the following suggestions based on drunk driving facts, as well:
  • Sit away from the bar, so you’re not distracted by it.
  • Drink flavored beverages like soda or flavored seltzer to have a glass in your hand. This measure will help avoid conversations about why you’re not drinking.
  • Take advantage of the hospitality of some drinking establishments which provide free, non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers.
  • Keep yourself occupied and enjoy the social atmosphere by talking, meeting new people, engaging in games, and concentrating on having a good time.
  • Finally, keep your commitment as a designated driver for the evening. One night of abstaining from alcohol for the safety of your life and those of your friends is far less unpleasant than the consequences of drunk driving.
  1. A final note: A sober driver may find themselves in the position of driving someone else’s vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device, also known as an in-car breathalyzer. It’s vital that you know how to use the interlock device, as the owner will be held responsible for any information that is recorded on the device’s data log. If you are not sure how to use the interlock device, we recommend that you do not operate the vehicle.

Draeger, Inc. specializes in providing and maintaining the highest quality of ignition interlock devices for drivers who are required by law to have one installed. If you have any questions about obtaining an ignition interlock and getting back on the road, please contact us.

*Links to any third-party websites herein are provided for your reference and convenience only. Dräger did not create nor develop, and does not own, any such third-party websites. Dräger does not endorse nor support the content of, nor any opinions stated in, any such third-party website links. Dräger is not responsible for the content of any third-party website or its accuracy or reliability. Nothing contained in this article or in any such third-party website shall be considered legal advice or be deemed to constitute legal advice. For any legal advice concerning a DUI arrest, charge, conviction or consequences thereof, you should contact an attorney of your choice.

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