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If you are planning on a night out and think you might have more than a drink or two over the course of the evening, you may decide to keep things safe by calling in the aid of a designated driver. The role of the designated driver is, depending on whom you ask, either to commit to not consuming any alcohol or to commit to consuming only marginal amounts of alcohol to transport those who do consume alcohol home safely. However, a study detailed by NBC News suggests that designated drivers do not always avoid drinking or consume only small amounts of liquor. On the contrary, the study revealed some very sobering statistics about many of the drivers you often choose to look out for you.

Scary statistics

The study involved about 1,000 people who were leaving bars and getting ready to head home for the night, with interviewers asking revelers whether they were serving as designated driver. After asking a series of questions, participants had their blood-alcohol levels tested using a breathalyzer, which is the same device used by law enforcement officials after they pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving.

Study results indicated that roughly 40 percent of those who were acting as designated drivers had consumed alcohol to some extent. Furthermore, it showed that 18 percent of them had consumed enough alcohol to register a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent or higher, which is the level at which many agree indicates impairment behind the wheel (even though the legal limit in many states is 0.08 percent).

Planning ahead can avoid the problem

Part of the problem may be due to the fact that designated drivers are not always determined until sometime around last call, when a group of friends may look around and nominate the party who appears to be the least intoxicated for the job. Friends, too, may elect to choose the person who is "best" at driving after having a few drinks, which also contributes to the problem.

One way to minimize the chances of a designated driver getting drunk is to clearly define and determine who that party will be long before anyone heads out for the evening. Friends who commonly go out together can rotate the duty, but setting a designated driver in stone from the outset is sure to lessen your chances of having a designated driver who is not sober.

The consequences of a drunk driving conviction can be staggering. If you find yourself facing a charge, consider getting in touch with an attorney.

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