The Investigators

Oct 21, 2013 1:00 PM by Matthew Schwartz

N4T Investigators: Designated drunks?

A recent study of designated drivers has produced some alarming results.

First, some history. Police say the crackdown on drinking and driving has been helped by people using designated drivers. The concept that someone in your group stays sober and drives home has been praised by advocacy groups and law enforcement since becoming popular in the US about 25 years ago.

It's also become somewhat popular locally.

Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Courtney Rodriguez told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "Throughout the years we've seen an increase in designated drivers that come through the checkpoints."

Deputy Rodriguez says the sheriff's office does not know of one case in recent memory in which a designated driver in the county been charged with DUI.

However, a recent study of designated drivers in Florida who took blood alcohol tests showed that 40% had at least one drink, and 18% had enough alcohol to be considered impaired.

We spoke with some customers at a downtown Tucson bar about the problem of designated drivers who are impaired.

Bryan Dougherty said, "Normally I make sure that my designated driver is not drinking, otherwise I'm not too comfortable with the situation. I'd rather have somebody completely sober drive me, otherwise I'd just rather walk home or call a cab.

Raylyn Abito told us, "If you're doing your job, you know, getting a cab or having a friend drive, that's not, you know, impaired, but there's other people out there that don't do that, and so that's what you worry about, it's scary.

Deputy Rodriguez says, "Just having the designation of being a designated driver does not mean that they're impervious to being charged with a DUI. If they're found to be impaired, they will be charged."

There are companies in Tucson that will send a designated driver to you for a fee. It could be a small price to pay, considering the possible consequences.

Remember, if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at


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