What Good Is a Designated Driver Who Drinks?

designated-driverThere is only one rule that a designated driver has to follow, but it’s a crucial one: do not drink. You’d think that it would be obvious, but a surprising number of so-called designated drivers end up in handcuffs.

It happened recently in Riverside, California. A police officer saw a Volkswagen doing 57 in a 30 mph zone. As it turned out, the speeder was also a drinker, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .182, more than twice the legal limit. As per the law, his car was impounded.

The driver had been the designated driver for his 3 passengers. Why did he drink?

One possible explanation is that he thought that a designated driver meant someone who drank less than his passengers. This is a common mistake. In fact, to be worthy of the name, a designated driver should stay off the booze entirely.

Perhaps he had “just one drink,” and the diminished judgement from that led to a second drink. That’s the procession that leads to a DUI.

When you agree to be a designated driver and you drink, you’re not just letting down your friends – you’re endangering them. If you’ve agreed to do the job for the evening, take it as a matter of trust. Do the right thing and stick with soft drinks. You’ll wake up the next day still having friends, your freedom – and your vehicle.

Budweiser And Lyft Partner So You Aren’t Arrested For Drunk Driving

arrested for drunk driving There are a lot of different reasons why people make the decision to drive drunk. Alcohol may give someone a false sense of courage and they may feel invincible, as though they getting arrested for drunk driving is something that only happens to other people. Or, they might drink and drive because they just don’t care about drunk driving laws and the penalties that come with them.

But a large majority of people say they drink and drive because they don’t have any other way home, and faced with the prospect of taking a bus or expensive cab, they decide to take their chances and drive. That decision ends in tragedy more often than you think, and that’s why Budweiser and Lyft have partnered up again to tackle the problem of drunk driving.

Budweiser has re-launched their popular “Give a Damn. Don’t Drive Drunk” campaign, and they’d like to see people drink responsibly and still get home safely by offering a deal on Lyft rides. Lyft, a ride sharing company, will provide rides every weekend for the rest of the 2017 on weekends and holidays, and the rides will be offered in several states including Texas, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

If you’d like to plan your ride home and avoid getting arrested for drunk driving yourself, all you have to do is login to Facebook or Instagram each Thursday by two pm and obtain a ride code. That ride code will give you a $20 credit on Lyft, $10 each for two one-way rides, and you can use your coupon between five pm and five am Thursday to Saturday.

You might not want to make a plan for a ride home a few days ahead of time, but it’s the best way for you, your friends, and for anyone on the road with you to stay safe as the we all head into the busy holiday season.

Your Uber Designated Driver May Have Been Drunk, And Now They’ll Pay

Uber designated driverIt might seem like it’s hard to come by a designated driver when you’ve been out drinking for the night, but that could be why people in California have embraced Uber as a way to get home after a night out on the town. The only problem? Uber seems to have its own issues with drunk driving.

A recent report detailed how the California Public Utility Commission found that Uber failed to suspend or investigate their drivers in California after passengers reported that they were driving drunk. They looked at a period of time between August 2014 and August 2015, and during that year they reviewed customer complaints and the action Uber took from those complaints.

The review looked at one hundred and fifty-four complaints, and they found Uber had violated zero-tolerance rules for drunk driving on one hundred and fifty-one different occasions in that year alone. In total Uber only followed up with the drivers on twenty-one complaints. Because of that lack of follow up Uber now faces just over one million dollars in fines.

But Uber is speaking out against the investigation, and although they aren’t disputing what was found in 2014, they are letting the public know that they’ve changed their policies since that year and have since cracked down on drunk driving. One of the new policies is that if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she will be permanently deactivated from the Uber network.

If Uber wants to ensure their drivers never drive drunk again, there’s an easy solution: make voluntary ignition interlocks a part of the contract each Uber driver signs before driving. By having an ignition interlock in the vehicle of every Uber driver, a customer in California can feel safe knowing that the designated driver they choose to get them home safely that night actually will get them home and the company can relax knowing there’s no way a driver will be able to drive drunk.

Friday fallout: Here’s What Happens When You Lose Rideshare Services

ride sharing AustinWhen it comes to rideshare services in Austin, Texas, there aren’t a lot of options. That’s because both Uber and Lyft pulled out of the city back in May of 2016.

Why? It all came down to ride sharing regulations imposed upon the companies from the city of Austin, and although Austin did it with the best of intentions, removing ridesharing services as an option for drunk drivers has backfired. Since Austin’s ride sharing network has picked up and left town, one thing has become clear.

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) rates have spiked

According to data from the Austin Police Department, there was an average of 525 drunk driving arrests per month before Uber. A year after Uber came to town, that number had dropped by five percent. The following year they saw an even greater decrease with the number dropping by another twelve percent, averaging out at 438 per month.

Those aren’t just numbers; that’s a decrease of 87 arrests, and because anything can happen when you’re driving drunk, that number can also add up to fewer drunk driving deaths in Austin.

Contrast that data with the data that came in after May 2016, the month Uber and Lyft decided to leave Austin. By that point Uber had been in Austin for two years and drunk driving arrests averaged at 358 per month. Within a few months drunk driving arrests increased by seven and a half percent over the past six months.

Ride sharing is widely known as a safe, convenient way to get home after a night of drinking. Thousands of people use the service every day, and having it suddenly pulled out from your city would be a difficult thing to adjust to. Given the statistics, maybe it’s time for Austin to take another look at their rideshare service restrictions and how they can make it work with rideshare companies.

Report: Uber Ride Sharing Not Decreasing Drunk Driving

uber ride sharingA lot of good has come from smartphones. People have an instant way to contact loved ones anywhere they are, you can keep up with friends on social media, and thousands of apps have appeared on the app store. Out of all of these apps, Uber, the ride sharing app, is one of the most popular.

As Uber has grown, so has its publicity. Over the past few years the company has paired with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to promote ride sharing and the app as a smart way to avoid drunk driving. It’s worked too:  Uber reported a decrease in drunk driving crashes in cities it operates, and even MADD shared a report praising ride sharing. There was also a recent report out of Las Vegas that, after an effort by both Uber and MADD, there were no drunk driving fatalities over the July 4th long weekend for the first time in a ten year period.

But a recent study is telling another story about Uber, and this one isn’t as positive. According to a data published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Uber hasn’t had as much of an impact on drunk driving rates as previously thought.

To do the study researchers tracked drunk driving fatalities from 2009 to 2004 in 100 of the largest areas in the USA. After analyzing the data, one of the significant findings was that while Uber was gaining popularity, there was no decrease in drunk driving deaths during that time.

How could they come to this conclusion despite overwhelming support for the use of Uber? One of the researchers speculated that it was because the amount of drunk drivers far outweighed the number of Uber drivers on duty. He also thought that the study data was taken from large cities where people already had a lot of alternate transportation options, and that Uber could make a bigger impact in areas that don’t have decent bus or taxi service.

Just like the other studies showing that Uber has decreased drunk driving because of ride sharing, it’s important to take this study with a grain of salt. Only time will tell how much Uber has benefited the cities it works in, but it shouldn’t really matter anyway: as long as people are choosing a safe ride home instead of drinking and driving, Uber is providing a great service.

Fighting Back: The History Of Drunk Driving Since The 1970’s

history of drunk drivingThe 1970’s were a wild time in the history of drunk driving. At the end of the 1960’s there were over 25,000 drunk driving crashes in the United States, and as the 70’s began it seemed to be widely accepted that someone would just get behind the wheel drunk. That might be because there were few to no penalties, no one lost a driver’s license, and crashes were considered ‘accidents’ that no one really meant to cause.

It was a lax way to look at drunk driving, and after a journalist named Doris Aiken read about a drunk driver who killed two teenagers in New York in 1977, she decided to question the local district attorney about it. When she found out that no one was going to jail and that the driver would get to keep his license, she took steps to create a much-needed change.

Aiken started by meeting with other people at her local church, and that’s where Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) was born. Begun in 1978, it was the first anti-drunk driving organization in the United States. As RID grew other activists jumped on board, and by 1983 there were 130 chapters in 30 states.

It was during RID’s growth stage that the most well known anti-drunk driving organization in the history of drunk driving began: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) formed in 1980 by Cindy Lamb and Candy Lightner. They’ve grown from a small organization to having at least one office in every state and one in every province in Canada.

With RID focusing its efforts in New York and MADD branching out all across the USA, real change began. Over a 30 year period the blood alcohol limit for drunk driving dropped across all states to .08, stiffer penalties became the norm for anyone caught drunk driving, and ignition interlocks became the method MADD promotes as one of the best ways to stop drunk drivers.

Although the forty-year drop from 25,000 crashes to 10,000 crashes is significant, there’s still a lot of work to be done to get that number to zero. Thankfully organizations like RID and MADD are still out there working to end drunk driving, and with people like Aiken at the helm, they won’t stop until they do.

No More Ride Sharing In Austin: Uber & Lyft Pull Out

ride sharing uber lyft austin texasRide sharing has exploded over the past few years. Instead of drunk drivers grabbing a taxi or bus to get home, people in need of a ride are now turning to Uber and Lyft as a viable option for a safe way home. The popularity of the service has meant a quick expansion from coast to coast, but that expansion has now abruptly hit a stop sign in Austin, Texas.

Lawmakers in Austin have become concerned over the safety of passengers who use Uber and Lyft, and they launched an attempt to regulate these ride sharing services through finger printing of drivers, adding identification to Uber and Lyft cars so they are easily recognized, and not allowing the pick up and drop off of riders in certain lanes. They also wanted to back a labor movement that wasn’t too happy with the ‘gig’ format of ride sharing, where drivers are not employees and aren’t entitled to what they deem as a fair wage.

Uber and Lyft didn’t look upon these regulations favorably, and they launched Proposition 1 in order to overturn them. Unfortunately for ride sharing fans everywhere, they lost the vote by 56% to 44%. That means the regulations stand, and in response to the loss, both Uber and Lyft have suspended operations in Austin.

Austin officials have said they’re happy to have ride sharing in the city, but it has to be on their terms and not based on policies made up by Uber and Lyft. What does this mean for Austin drunk drivers? They’ll now have to turn back to taxis and public transportation to get a ride home, and this could mean an increase in drunk driving in the city.

But it’s what this outcome means for ride sharing across the United States that’s even more troubling. Given that Uber and Lyft have been in the news for various issues, will every city in the USA that uses ride sharing follow suit and require require these companies to comply with city-based policies and procedures? It’s a distinct possibility, and if so, there could be a huge jump in drunk driving everywhere.

Big Beer Companies Have Designated Driver Programs Too

beer comapny designated driver programWhen you think of people who are fighting drunk driving, your mind doesn’t normally go to the people who sell the beer, wine and spirits. But if a company is going to sell you alcohol, they have a social responsibility to make sure you use common sense when you drink it, and that’s why big beer and alcohol companies have designated driver programs in place.

Take Anheuser-Busch for example: designed to help consumers make safe choices, they have the Budweiser designated driver program that promotes the use of designated drivers anywhere the beer is served. Designated drivers in the program get discounts on non-alcoholic drinks and food in exchange for having a dry night and making sure everyone in their group gets home safely.

Anheuser-Busch also two cab-related programs called Bud Light Alert Cab and SoberRide. Those programs ask cab drivers to give out reduced or free fares to people who are too drunk to drive. There’s also Bud Light Tow To Go, a program that partners with AAA in Florida and other southern states to arrange vehicles to be towed home free of charge with the owner riding in the tow truck. This program makes sense because a lot of people will skip getting a cab or designated driver because they don’t want to leave their car overnight.

Some areas have scooter programs that are sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. If someone has been drinking and needs a ride home, a driver with a scooter meets him or her. The scooter is folded up and put in the trunk, and the sober driver gives everyone a ride home.

They sell alcohol, so companies like Anheuser-Busch know how dangerous drinking and driving is. Although they can’t force everyone to make the right choice, they can supply designated driver programs, and with these in place, someone might think twice before they get behind the wheel.

Uber Driver Gives Drunk Passenger A Face Full Of Mace

Uber-driver-maceUber’s been growing in popularity over the past year, and because of that popularity they’ve begun to veer into the mainstream. That means people are starting to think Uber just as much as they are thinking cabs, and it’s becoming the smart choice to call an Uber driver when you’re drunk and shouldn’t drive.

But with mainstream customers comes mainstream problems, and a lot of Uber drivers are required to deal with drunk people looking for a way to get home. Case in point: a California Uber driver picked up an extremely intoxicated man who refused to give him his address and things turned violent.

Violence is not a common issue for Uber drivers, but after the man wouldn’t wear a seat belt, wouldn’t stay awake, and refused to give his address so the driver could take him home, the driver pulled over and told the passenger to get out. With a dash cam running to record everything, the passenger started hitting the driver over the head, pulling his hair, and trying to smash his head into the window. That’s also the point where the driver gave the passenger a face full of mace.

The police arrived soon after, and since that point it has come out that the passenger was a Taco Bell brand manager and has since been fired over the incident. Although Uber has banned the rider from ever using the ride service again, the driver said he’s finished and won’t be driving for them anymore. He feels the quality of passengers is declining.

The passenger avoided a driving under the influence charge by calling the Uber driver in the first place, but now he’s been charged with public intoxication and assault. It’s a sad testimony to what alcohol can bring out in people, and the only thing to be thankful for in this case is that the man didn’t get behind the wheel while that intoxicated.

Rideshare Companies: A Fleet of
Designated Drivers a Click Away

Much has been written about the controversy surrounding rideshare companies like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. The feisty companies are impinging on the territory once given over to taxis, with a difference: you can summon these mostly amateur rides with a smartphone app. No hanging on the phone while a dispatcher locates an available taxi and rounds up your ride.

Rideshare services an alternative to taxis for driving home drinkersNaturally, taxi companies are panicked at the prospect of new competition from participants with no barriers to entry. Authorities are genuinely concerned about safety issues: just who are these self-appointed chauffeurs? How responsible and accountable are they, and what kind of insurance do they carry?

Among the things that offend taxi traditionalists is the practice of charging more for rush hour rides – something that transit systems have done for many years now.

Right now cities and states are working these issues out, but one thing is indisputable: having a battalion of drivers ready at the click of an icon would be a good thing for reducing drunk driving.

True, if there’s no designated driver at a party or bar one can call a taxi, but the more options there are, the better. It wouldn’t hurt if taxi companies entered the 21st Century and started using smartphone apps for hailing its cabs.

We’re used to buying camping equipment and washing machines with one or two clicks – why not a taxi ride? The easier it is for drinkers to line up a ride, the safer we all are on the roads.

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