Study suggests questioning whether your designated driver is sober

Designated drivers are generally relied upon to provide safe transportation for others who have been drinking and may be too impaired to get behind the wheel. Consequently, one would assume that designated drivers refrain from consuming alcohol when they are expected to drive others home.

According to a new study, however, designated drivers may not always handle their responsibilities properly. The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, revealed that many designated drivers actually consume alcohol before taking others home.

The researchers examined the actions of 165 designated drivers, most of whom were males in college, during a three-month period. The participants took a breath alcohol test at the end of the night. The researchers found that approximately 40 percent of the designated drivers consumed some amount of alcohol during the evening.

In addition, about 18 percent of the study participants had consumed alcohol in sufficient quantities to impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The study considered those with a BAC at or above 0.05 percent to be impaired, as the National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended lowering the legal BAC to 0.05 from 0.08 across the country.

The frequency of drunk driving accidents in Minnesota

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in 2012, 111 people died in drunk driving accidents in Minnesota - accounting for 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. In addition, another 2,375 people in Minnesota sustained personal injuries from motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver that year.

While there has been a reduction in the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers in the past decade, drunk driving continues to be a serious problem in Minnesota. In 2011, over 29,255 people were arrested for driving while intoxicated in Minnesota. Of those arrested, 41 percent had previously been convicted of DWI and another 7 percent were under 21 years of age at the time of the arrest.

Drunk driving is a problem across the country as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 10,225 people died in drunk driving accidents in the United States in 2010. As in Minnesota, those fatalities accounted for about 30 percent of all traffic fatalities across the country that year.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.