So it’s Friday night, and you and your friends are going to a party, where there’s going to be a boatload of alcohol just waiting to be consumed. Of course, you would be chugging down drinks with the best of them, and your friends will be doing the exact same thing. The question is, how do you and your buddies plan to get home safely?
If you had a designated driver before leaving for the party, then you have done the smartest thing, second only to not drinking at all.
The Designated Drivers policy saves 50,000 lives each year
We all know how alcohol, even in small doses, affects the body. With alcohol’s effects on your vision, balance, hearing and reaction time, driving becomes a hazardous task. Alcohol affects also your mood, judgment, and reasoning. Driving under the influence of alcohol puts you, your passengers and other motorists and pedestrians at considerable risk. Over the years, drunk driving has claimed tens of thousands of lives all over the world.
Yes, drunk driving is clearly a social issue: according to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, two-out-of-three people will be affected by drunk driving in their lifetime. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an individual dies in a drunk driving accident every 53 minutes. This translates to 28 preventable deaths every single day.
The concept of a designated driver, however, has proven to be an effective way of preventing drunk driving. “The designated driver program asks that motorists always designate a driver when traveling after consuming alcohol or take a taxi. “Designate a driver” can be used anytime people plan to go out and drink alcoholic beverages ensuring a safe drive home.” 
With a sober person doing the driving for a bunch of inebriated people, getting involved in vehicular mishaps becomes less likely. As a matter of fact, statistics show that designated drivers save 50,000 lives each year.
Who gets to be designated driver?
The group as a whole often decides who gets to be the designated driver. In most cases, designated driving assignments are revolving ones, with members of that group taking turns as to who would not drink a drop of booze at a party so he or she can drive everyone home safely.
If you’re an alcohol drinker, becoming a designated driver entails a certain amount of commitment and sacrifice. Admittedly, seeing everyone have a grand time at any gathering, with you on the sidelines just waiting for the party to end, can be tough. However, ensuring that you and your friends make it home without incident is quite rewarding by itself. Many consider designated drivers heroic not only because they save lives, but also because of the sacrifices they have to make. However, if no one in your group wants to be designated driver, it is also all right to just decide to pay somebody to drive all of you home.
Drunk driving and government action : the Swedish example
When it comes to saving lives, it’s always a good idea to look at what’s going on better elsewhere.
Sweden is probably one of the best example of what it takes to save lives on the roads: the Driving Under the Influence laws there are some of the toughest in the world. In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a “Vision Zero” plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. They simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on their roads. The country lowered its legal limit from .05 to .02 twenty years ago and they’re seeing results. Stopping drunk-driving isn’t just up to police in Sweden: some restaurants and bars give free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers, while citizens often call to report drunk drivers. Furthermore, if the police stop a repeat offender, they will seize his car, which will be sold or scrapped. According to that, Sweden’s roads have become the world’s safest, with only three of every 100,000 Swedes dying on the roads each year, compared with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, and 11.4 in America.
In the United States, all states define driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 as a crime, but specific laws and penalties vary substantially from state to state. A PDF chart of state drunk driving laws is available for download here.
+ To know what you can do to prevent drunk driving, check out this infographic provided by the Arizona DUI Team.