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7/16/2013 - Designated drivers not always sober, study finds

Despite their title, many designated drivers sneak a few drinks at the bar.

Whether it's at a ball game or in a bar, alcohol sales often jump significantly in the summer months, the time of year that many take advantage of by enjoying nights out with friends or at someone's home. And traditionally, group outings will designate one driver to abstain from drinking in order to ensure that they're not intoxicated behind the wheel.

But as a recent study indicates, it turns out designated drivers often have blood-alcohol levels that are high enough to affect their ability to drive carefully.

At the University of Florida, Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education, recently conducted a breathalyzer test on approximately 1,000 people who had been at a bar and appointed as the designated driver. In more than 50% of instances, these drivers had a blood-alcohol level of 0.05. Many state legislatures are considering lowering the legal threshold to this number from its current 0.08.

If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they're chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past - successful meaning got home in one piece," said Barry. "That's disconcerting."

While drunk driving can lead to an auto insurance accident, it can also result in legal issues for party hosts who serve alcohol. Before entertaining, it's important to be aware of state laws regarding the serving of alcohol and that the proper amount of liability insurance is secured.

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