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Study shows Texas designated drivers may be drinking

A group of researchers from the University of Florida, Gainsville, has shown that having a designated driver does not necessarily mean that you will make it home safely. The study was conducted in a college town among mostly white bar patrons. They did not reveal the location of the study was not revealed. However, the results are relevant to any city or college town in Texas.

Of the nearly 1,100 bar patrons who were surveyed, 165 identified themselves as designated drivers. Upon testing the self-identified drivers' blood alcohol levels, researchers found that only 65 percent had not consumed alcohol. Of the remaining individuals tested, about 30 had blood alcohol levels over .05 percent. A person is considered to be driving while intoxicated and cannot legally operate a car in the state of Texas with .08 percent blood alcohol content. Some health advocates are pushing lawmakers to lower the legal limit to .05 percent based on evidence that drivers are impaired at the lower level.

The research team did not test the designated drivers as they left the bar, so it is not clear whether they were legally intoxicated by that time. However, this study shows that drivers are sometimes selected based on who has the least to drink, not necessarily the person who is not drinking at all. According to the author of the study, designated drivers should abstain from drinking entirely because it is more difficult to concentrate on driving with a car full of drunken passengers.

While a driver is considered legally drunk with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent, they can be charged with DWI with a lower level if a police officer observes them driving as if they are drunk. Because police observations are subjective, it is important for every Texas driver to know their rights before they get behind the wheel. An attorney with experience in DWI defense may be able to determine if any charges are valid.

Source: KLTV.com, "Designated drivers often drink themselves", Randy Dotinga, June 10, 2013

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