Study Finds Designated Drivers Still Drink

Posted at: 06/10/2013 9:51 PM
Updated at: 06/10/2013 10:21 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- It’s no secret that drinking and driving is illegal, which is why many choose to avoid it by designating one person to stay sober.

But new research shows that often times when people turn over their keys, they may not actually be putting their faith, or their car, in the safest hands.

According to a new study, published in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs on Monday, nearly 40 percent of designated drivers had been drinking on the same night that they were supposed to be the safe ride home. And 20 percent of those drank enough to become impaired themselves.

With nearly 350 DWI’s given out in Minnesota alone this weekend, it's a problem law enforcement officials say needs to be a priority.

“Until we have zero people killed on Minnesota highways, this is certainly something we need to strive for,” said Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi.

At Mickey's Place in downtown Austin, the owners installed a bike rack to encourage people to stay off the roads and avoid costly DUI’s.

“It's too expensive,” said bartender Andy Wilson. “A cab only costs 10 to 15 bucks and a DUI’s like two or three grand, so it's definitely smarter to catch a cab."

Law enforcement officials said the key to avoiding both DUI’s and the temptation to drink, is simply to keep your designated driver away from the party.

“Be at home, be some place away from the alcohol, certainly if that's something you like to imbibe in,” Sheriff Amazi said. “Maybe remove yourself from that situation for the night and then get your passengers home safely."

In the end though, officials said the solution to the problem is a simple one.

“If you do notice that somebody is drinking and they are your designated driver, maybe it's time to call a cab,” Sheriff Amazi said. “Why risk it?"

Although the study yielded dramatic results, the findings were perhaps skewed by the relatively small sample size that was used.

Researchers questioned only 1,000 people, most of them students living in a small college town.