Least Drunk Driver Gets The Car Keys

What’s the definition of a designated driver? Someone who agrees to abstain from drinking alcohol and be responsible for driving others home, right?

Wrong! According to several recent surveys, many teenagers believe that designated driver means the person who has drunk the least amount of alcohol: a new Canadian study found that 20 percent of teens start drinking and then choose a designated driver, and the Center for Disease Control discovered that 30 percent of teenagers pick a driver who has already been drinking (presumably also after everyone has imbibed some alcohol).

This is depressing reading. As a high school teacher, I’ve sat through numerous assemblies presented by kids whose lives have been dramatically changed because they were involved in a drunk driving accident. These presenters plead with their audiences; they are desperate to get the message across that drinking and driving destroys lives. They know it personally, and they usually end up crying on stage. It is painful to watch.

And yet every year, at all six schools where I’ve taught, lives have been lost due to alcohol. One year Sean was racing his dad’s car on a narrow, winding street and probably having fun until the car slammed into a tree, killing Sean and his four drinking buddies. Another year it was a drunken college student driving the wrong way on the freeway near my school who crashed head-on into the car carrying Eric, one of my French 3 students, and his family, and destroyed four lives instantly.

So what does it take to get kids to understand? Consider these facts from the 2008 National Survey on on Drug Use and Health conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
*  50 percent of high school teenagers drink some alcohol
*  An estimated 12.4 percent of people aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the preceding year. (That’s 30.9 million people)
*  33 percent of high school teens have ridden with a driver who has been drinking alcohol
*  Every day, three teenagers die from drinking and driving accidents in the U.S.

Does a drinking age of 21 make sense? Should it be lowered? Would that make a difference? Next time you are around teenagers and the topic of designated drivers comes up, take the time to explain exactly what it means, and why it’s so important.

Creative Commons - kevindooley
Judy Molland


Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago

Depressing and sad stats...

Ann Eastman
Ann Eastman6 years ago

Adolescents do tend to view themselves as immortal or invincible until proven otherwise: not just driving after imbibing, but driving too fast, while texting, etc. I'm one of the lucky ones that survived the teen years.

Peter Billington
Peter B6 years ago

very sad thank for posting.

Eco Warriors SoS  Rainfor
EcoWorrier M6 years ago


Antony T.
.6 years ago

Lisa Stoner, it is not the fact that they may kill themselves, or their friends, and families, that matters to me.

What matters to me, is the sheer arrogance of those who use drink or drugs, assuming they have the right to include me, in their foolish games, without my consent or my families consent.

If they could use these things responsibly, I would have no problem letting them be legalised , but they do not, their behaviour always includes putting others at risk without their consent or even knowledge, and that to me is indefensible, morally or legally.

As for the marijuana users, who claim that it makes them a better driver, because they are "mellowed out", and do not drive as fast, do any of them ever read the papers, about the poor distance judgement, and slow reactions to danger, this causes ?, or are they like so many these days, simply going with the flow, and behaving as the pushers best advertisement of all, after all,..... "I have used this for years, and it has caused me no problems"..... as a friend I once had, said to me, the important part of this, is the word, " ME", and it should not be that way, and more importantly, no longer a friend either.

I want to choose my friends, by choice, not by accident. and the same goes for my date of death as well..... my life, my choice.

Not anybody elses, who thinks they can do as they please, and put me, or my family or friends at risk, without our consent, or knowledge, either from booze, or drugs.

Antony T.
.6 years ago

So, for any who can not understand why I have written so much, on this subject, try to think for a little while, or ask a friend, and do not "drink and drive" in future, ever.

Antony T.
.6 years ago

While I am on about this anyway, make it a indictable offence to sell to minors, with a jail sentence, and loss of the right to purvey alcohol ever again, add in the seizure of all goods and associated property, used in the sale, to a minor, and you will be getting somewhere about this problem, until the message is written clearly in the law, no one, of any age, will take it seriously.

I assume that you have licensing laws for off-licences ( non pubs, shops, etc ), so you have a trading standards agency that polices these places, and arranges for youngsters to attenpt to buy, cigarrettes, or alcohol from them, thus keeping these shops on their toes, if they get caught out by these attenpts, now all you need, is to have a law making it an offense for any parent to allow their child, access to alcohol, in the home, puinishable by jail for failure to restrict access, and for the child involved.

Perhaps it is time for "family jails", permanent revocation, of all driving priviliges, forever, by withdrawing a licence for good and proper. For any who do this , you will only get this to stop, if you show you are serious, do it, and do it now !. 35,000 lives at stake every year, and the medical costs alone, should see this done,seek damages by law, from every driver personally, who beaks the law, not having insurance companies pay up, and a right to say no ! to any payout that involves the driver they have insured,. if they breach drink drive laws. they alone, should pay.

Antony T.
.6 years ago

One other little thing, the term "Driving Under The Influence", what a namby pamby, way, for any politician to name this !, how about, we change the language to start with, here and now, and make the charge................... " Failure To Be In Control Of A Lethal Weapon, On A Public Highway, Due To Alcohol Intake",

Seems a lot less funny than people laughing about "DUI's", and may finally stop the screenwriters laughingly using this, as a plot line, for humour, anymore.

While I am on this subject, how about we also show the real destructive consequences, on T.V. once in a while, rather than some popular character, feeling slightly embarrassed, or making humorous remarks about this ?

Antony T.
.6 years ago

I get a feeling from this side of the pond, from your media, that the message is not getting across to adults either, from every show, Seinfeld, to Boston Law, and back again, that the business of drink driving is not taken seriously by most people, because most people have indulged and driven, at one time or another, it seems that this is treated by the entertainment industry in particular, as a joke, and cause for retaining a good, slick, lawyer, at worst, but never cause for regret, and with the example set by the Kennedy clan, it is also considered a joke at all levels in society.

Something that is portrayed as having no moral, and few legal consequences, for the offender either. but as a nation with in excess of 35,000 deaths every year, it should not be a laughing matter,

I watched, on U Tube a few months ago, a video of a girl in Brazil, who was involved in an accident with a drunk boy behind the wheel of a car, Not her car, ( she was driving alone ), he was in his parents car, and she had been trapped in her car, when it caught fire, she will need in excess of 85 operations to give her back her face, and has spent three agonising years, in recovery, so far, to see this alone was, a shocking experience, even for a soldier, who has spent four years in war zones, around this world, they should force all kids, or adults watch this movie clip.

No ifs, buts, or excuses, any more.

As for those, who still do this, then JAIL them. FULL STOP.

Helen Allard
Helen Allard6 years ago

There should be more strigent laws in place for drunk drivers, they seem lax to me. It doesn't seem to be taken for real to me. I live in La and I've heard drunk drivers getting their 4th and 5th ticket, DUH, What the heck is going on here, should the federal goverment take that over too?