Choosing a designated driver instead of driving while intoxicated is a simple way to save lives. Drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable, yet they are responsible for 30% of automotive fatalities and 32 deaths each day in the United States. The statistics are staggering, but they illustrate that assigning a designated driver should be a top priority whenever you’re planning to drink and do some traveling.
What is a designated driver?
Designated driver definitions can vary, but they all describe someone who abstains from drinking so they can drive others to and from a party, event, or anywhere alcohol is served up. The designated driver remains sober by refusing and abstaining from ALL alcohol or mind-altering substances. They have one job: keeping others safe by staying sober behind the wheel.
Harvard University launched its designated driver program in 1988. Within 6 years of the program’s creation, drunk driving fatalities had decreased by a whopping 30%. Within 10 years, designated drivers had saved over 50,000 lives, and that number has continued rising ever since. While these results are a significant step in the right direction, there is still much more work to be done.
Why is a designated driver important?
You may have seen the current “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving” public service campaign, which touches on the dangers of driving after drinking even a small amount of alcohol. Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more is illegal, but a person can still be impaired before they reach the BAC limit.
Drinking and driving is not just dangerous and illegal; it’s also expensive. If someone is caught driving with a .08 BAC or higher, they will likely be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI). A single DUI can cost a person thousands of dollars in court fees and make it illegal for them to drive. In other words, it’s always best to choose a designated driver.
Designated drivers are nearly universally respected, as their role is to get everyone home safely. If you volunteer as a designated driver, you’re bound to receive praise from friends, peers, family members, law enforcement officers, and even bartenders. However, people don’t become designated drivers just for the respect — they do it to help keep others alive.
When do you need a designated driver?
If you and your friends need a car to get to a party, concert, sporting event, or anywhere alcohol is being served, you need a designated driver so no one in your party drinks and drives. A designated driver can be chosen, or you can take turns so someone else abstains and drives next time.
Where to find a designated driver?
If you and your friends are struggling to choose a designated driver, you can always volunteer yourself. Keep in mind that this choice can be difficult to make if you’re in early recovery, as being around others who are drinking can be a trigger for alcohol use. However, a Personal Recovery Assistant (PRA) or sober companion from Hired Power can provide the direct support, strategies, and tools necessary to help you avoid temptations and remain sober when you decide to act as a designated driver.
Even if nobody wants to be the designated driver, there are still many other options that will prevent you from driving drunk. Options include taxis, buses, Uber, Lyft, and even limousine services. Many college campuses also offer designated driver services and programs.
If you are to choose your own designated driver, there are a few things to keep in mind. The designated driver must:
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Verbally identify themselves as a designated driver
- Abstain from ALL alcohol and mind-altering drugs during the event or outing
Keep in mind that local laws surrounding the required age of a designated driver may vary. Make sure to review your area’s regulations if your chosen driver is under the age of 21.
Assigning a designated driver isn’t just safe and responsible; it’s also the right thing to do. So whenever you’re planning a memorable evening out with friends or loved ones in the future, always remember to consider the most important part: the designated driver.
Begin the recovery journey with Hired Power
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, the caring experts at Hired Power can help facilitate a recovery plan that creates the foundation for a successful healing journey. Hired Power provides a compassionate and personalized approach to the entire recovery process. With over 20 years of experience in personal recovery assistance and full-service recovery support for clients and families, we can help you or your loved one achieve and maintain successful recovery and fulfillment. From interventions and case management to drug and alcohol monitoring and personal recovery assistants, Hired Power is your designated partner to Bring Recovery Home. Contact us today to learn more about how our approach can help you begin the recovery journey.