Most statistics are similar in that they reveal that approximately 30 percent of all fatal accidents that occur in the United States are recorded with alcohol as at least a factor in the crash. That means that thousands of people are killed across the country every year because of drunk drivers, and that number includes the drunk drivers themselves. For years now, there has been a very strong push made by groups, individuals and law enforcement personnel to bring about heightened awareness regarding the obvious dangers of drinking and driving, and while the raw number of people killed has dropped, the percentages have not.
One of the most popular, oldest and seemingly most reliable programs that has been adopted almost universally is that which is known as the designated driver. This is a person that goes out with a group of friends and agrees not to consume alcohol while others do so that everyone can arrive back at home safely. Many restaurants and drinking establishments even offer free non-alcoholic drinks and sometimes food to those who are designated drivers. Most people would assume that this is an idea that works very well and that it saves lives.
While the strategy of having a designated driver does save lives, the results of a recent study reveal that it may not necessarily be an idea that works extremely well. Researchers at the University of Florida tracked over 1,000 bar patrons – all of whom were males – over a three-month period to find out more about their alcohol consumption habits. What they found was that during that time, approximately 40 percent of so-called designated drivers consumed alcohol on the nights that they were supposed to drive, and approximately 20 percent of them consumed alcohol to the point where their driving abilities were inhibited.
The study has brought about a reaction that includes people being surprised, shocked and stunned, and it clearly indicates that even designated drivers in general need to do a better job of being disciplined when they agree to take on this duty. There is no telling how many designated drivers are involved in DUI accidents, but someone merely saying that they are fulfilling this role should not necessarily lead anyone to assume that they are either alcohol-free or sober.
Clearly, anyone who consumes alcohol and causes a DUI accident that leads to car accidents resulting in injuries or in fatalities can face the same criminal liability whether such a person was a designated driver or not. Such a person could also face the same civil liabilities if the people who suffer because of these actions decide to respond by filing lawsuits.
Hopefully word of this study will spread and more people will take it upon themselves to hold designated drivers accountable and to not allow them to drive if they have been drinking. If you or someone you love has been harmed by a drunk driver, contact the Las Vegas injury lawyers at the Sam Harding Law Firm to schedule a free initial consultation.