Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP

Can designated drivers get a DUI?

Before you volunteer to be a designated driver, you may want to think twice about whether you can fully abstain from drinking while having a night out with your friends. A designated driver is one who goes out, but promises to not drink alcohol in order to stay sober and drive everyone home safely once the night is over. Yet a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs discovered that nearly 40% of designated drivers had alcohol at some point during the evening. 

During the study, researchers conducted breath tests on designated drivers before they hopped behind the wheel of a vehicle to take their friends home. WHile 40% had not refrained from drinking, a surprising 18% had a blood alcohol content level of 0.05 or higher. Although the level limit is 0.08, BAC levels below that can have major effects on a person's ability to drive. 

According to, blood alcohol content levels as low as 0.02 can affect the way you operate a car. At 0.02, you may feel more relaxed and have impaired judgements when it comes to handling the car At 0.05, people may experience the following:

  • Reduced coordination

  • Exaggerated behavior

  • Loss of good decision making

  • Lowered inhibitions

  • Blurred vision

At this level, you may have a delayed response time when reacting to certain hazards, such as bad weather, objects in the road, pedestrians, animals and other drivers. 

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.



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