In A Better You, Health & Wellbeing

When to Look for a Designated Driver

Imagine this. You are out with friends and enjoying an amazing night of drinking, dancing and socializing. Then the night comes to an end. What happens if everyone you are with has been drinking and for the most part are drunk? Do you a) get in the car and drive home, b) find someone else to drive you home (a designated driver) or c) get stressed over worrying about how you are going to get home?

Of course your friends and family are happy to help you find your way home safe, but chances are they are not 100 percent enthused that you woke them up in the middle of the night. Especially if they have to be at work the next morning.

This is one of the reasons why you should always have a designated driver with you when going out drinking. If, for some reason, a designated driver is not an option, make sure to have alternate plans to ensure you, your friends and your car make it home in one piece.

Do not drink and drive

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, an estimated 32 percent of all fatal car crashes involve a driver or pedestrian who is intoxicated. When we drink, our brain is not able to make quick decisions that may be necessary to avoid an accident.

Here are some facts from the NCADD website:

  • Close to 13,000 people are killed annually due to alcohol-related accidents
  • Hundreds of thousands of people are injured due to alcohol-related accidents
  • These accidents cost more than $100 billion to American taxpayers
  • More than 1.4 million arrests are made annually for drinking while intoxicated
  • Two-thirds of those sentenced to incarceration are repeat offenders

Consequences of drinking and driving

There are many different consequences you can face when being charged with a DUI. These penalties are set and governed by state and local laws. Consequences those who are convicted of a DUI include:

  • Having to pay a substantial fine
  • License revocation
  • Higher insurance payments
  • Possible incarceration
  • Community service
  • Permanent criminal record

Severity of the consequences depend greatly upon what blood alcohol level the driver had and if there were any injuries caused from their actions. If someone is killed in a car accident, the drunk driver could face charges of manslaughter. Any one of the above consequences will haunt the convicted driver for the rest of their lives.

Facts about drinking and driving

According to DoSomething.org here are some additional facts about driving under the influence:

  • Coffee, cold showers or exercise will not sober someone up
  • On average, a drunk driver will drive 80 times while under the influence before their first arrest
  • Someone is killed in America every 53 minutes due to a drunk driving crash
  • Someone is injured every 90 seconds from a drunk driving incident
  • More than 9,800 people were victims of drunk drivers in 2011
  • Between 50 and 75 percent of the people whose licenses were revoked for DUI continue to drive illegally without their license
  • Law enforcement efforts have cut the fatality rate of drunk driving by 50 percent since 1980
  • More than 200 children were killed in 2010 due to drunk driving crashes
  • 62 percent of those children were riding in the car with the impaired driver

What is a designated driver?

A designated driver is someone who abstains from drinking when going out with friends in order to ensure everyone has a safe way of getting home. Basically, it refers to anyone who is predetermined to drive those who have been drinking home. In most cases, this person goes out with friends, while in other cases, it is someone who is at home and prepared to help their friends make it home safely by going out to pick them up.

Sometimes the group will alternate who the designated driver is, while others may volunteer for the role. While out, this person is to enjoy the night out with friends, enjoying virgin daiquiris. Once the night comes to an end, the designated driver is the one responsible for bringing everyone else home.

However, not everyone wants to be the designated driver. This is why in some situations, that person ends up having a little too much to drink before the night is over. It all starts when they say “I am just having one drink” and before the night is over, they end up having three or more.

This is why it is always a good idea to have a backup plan, such as the number of another friend, taxi or designated driver service.

Designated driver service

If you find yourself wanting to go out with friends, but no one is filling the designated driver role, there are many cities across the country which have designated driver services available. These companies ensure that you and your car make it home safely. However, the biggest problem with these services is knowing they exist in your area and how to get in contact with them.

The National Directory of Designated Driver Services has everything you need to ensure you make it home after a night out in town. As of publication, this directory included more than 600 listings for companies operating in 45 states. In fact, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island have services operating in all of the counties within each state. Unfortunately, Alaska, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Vermont are the five states that do not have this service available at this time.

How the service works

Designated drivers work in teams of two when offering services to those who have been drinking. This means that two people will show up in their vehicle and help you get home. One drives you home in your car and the other follows in their vehicle. Once you are home, they drive off together in their vehicle. This way you do not have to spend the next day tracking down your car and finding a way to get it home.

Some services use scooters to help those inebriated get home safely. This is when someone comes to you driving a small scooter that can be placed in the trunk of your car. Your driver will then take you home and once you are home, he or she drives off on their scooter.

Designated driver alternatives

We are not always lucky enough to have a friend who volunteers to be the designated driver for the night. Nor are we all lucky to have a designated driver service in the town we are planning to go out drinking in. If this is the situation you are being faced with when making plans for a night out in town, you will need to come up with some alternatives.

Here are some alternatives to having a designated driver the next time you and friends plan to go out drinking:

  • Drink at the bar located within the hotel you are staying at.
  • Only drink at locations that are within a safe walking distance to where you are staying the night at.
  • Take public transportation.
  • Call a taxi or other driving service.
  • Hire a limo service for the night.
  • Avoid drinking altogether.
  • Drink at home with friends.
  • Set a limit of drinks and a time to stop drinking (well before you will ever drive home).

There are many reasons why you will want to go out and have a good time with friends. Which also means there are many reasons why you should have a designated driver or other alternative to ensure you all make it home. No matter what your plans are, before going out for the night, consider the consequences of drinking and driving. Then make that plan to get you all home safely before you go out and get drunk.

Just remember to never drink and drive. Otherwise you might find yourself losing your license, in jail or worse.

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