A recent study at the University of Florida found that 35% of designated drivers had drank during the night, and had blood-alcohol levels that were high enough to impair their driving.

The study polled over 1,000 bar patrons in the downtown of a major Southern college campus – and half the respondents who registered as “designated drivers” recorded a blood alcohol level higher than .05%.

While the legal threshold for intoxication is higher than .05% in most jurisdictions, the study shines a troubling light on two trends.

Buzzed Driving

Despite attempts by many state and national agencies to counter the myth, buzzed driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. A buzzed driver may significantly overestimate their abilities and reaction speeds, resulting in accidents, injuries, and worse. A blood alcohol level of .05% certainly qualifies as buzzed driving, and this level of impairment has been shown to slow reaction speeds and increase the danger of driving.

The fact that so many of the “responsible” designated drivers in this study had chosen to drive buzzed instead of remaining sober is troubling. The inability to go a night without indulging in drink – even after making the commitment to do so to your companions – could be seen as a sign of a burgeoning alcoholism.

College Binge Drinking

The fact the study took place at a college campus also remind us that college binge drinking remains a serious health issue. While oft-joked about and seen as something of a “tradition”, binge drinking by college students has been linked to a number of later health problems, and is a starting point for many people dealing with alcoholism.

This study illustrates the pervasive nature of drinking in the college experience – which, when combined with abuse of stimulants like Adderall, can be deadly.

Finding Help

If you are in college, or know someone in college, suffering with an alcohol problem, you can help them. Don’t be scared to reach out and ask for help – talk to our counselors today.