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Designated drivers don't always abstain, UF study finds
Date:6/9/2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Maybe better call that cab, after all: A new University of Florida study found that 35 percent of designated drivers had quaffed alcohol and most had blood-alcohol levels high enough to impair their driving.

Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at UF, and his team interviewed and breath-tested more than 1,000 bar patrons in the downtown restaurant and bar district of a major university town in the Southeast. Of the designated drivers who had consumed alcohol, half recorded a blood-alcohol level higher than .05 percent -- a recently recommended new threshold for drunken driving.

"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 ... that's disconcerting," Barry said.

The results are published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The researchers recruited patrons as they left bars between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. across six Friday nights before home football games in fall 2011. The mean age of the 1,071 people who agreed to be tested was 28. Most were white male college students, while 10 percent were Hispanic, 6 percent were Asian and 4 percent were African-American.

After completing a 3-5 minute interview about demographic data and alcohol-related behaviors, participants then had their blood-alcohol content tested with a hand-held breath-testing instrument.

The non-driving participants had significantly higher levels than the designated drivers, but 35 percent of the 165 self-identified designated drivers had been drinking. Seventeen percent of all those drivers tested had blood-alcohol levels between .02 and .049 percent, while 18 percent were at .05 percent or higher.

The National Transportation Safety Board last month recommended all 50 states adopt a
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Contact: Adam Barry
aebarry@hhp.ufl.edu
352-294-1809
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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