So, you've set all your plans in stone. You will meet up with all your friends and comrades at the local pub this Friday night to enjoy a night of fun and frolic. In all of this excitement and planning, did anyone stop to ask who was going to be the designated driver for the evening? If not, I feel this is where we should start.
I really don't think many partygoer's put enough effort or attention into making sure they have a responsible designated driver with them when they are going to be drinking. There are plenty of kind citizens that offer to be the designated driver, but then fail to uphold their end of the deal. They give into to just a few drinks, feeling that as long as they are at least more sober than everyone else, they are still ok to drive. That is NOT a designated driver.
A designated driver is a person who is more than willing, and hopefully voluntarily not drinking that night. You should never once see them sipping off somebody's drink, or hiding a beer under the table. If you or anyone you are with have been drinking, do not, I repeat DO NOT let them drive!
Drinking and driving causes fatal accidents every day! It is your responsibility to make sure this stops happening. Even if you are not driving, letting a friend get on the road under the influence is just as bad, and when they have steam plowed your house, friends, or family with their flying ton of steel, you will finally realize how important it really is to have a designated driver.
It is through harsh experiences that I write this article for you. If you have sought out this article to prepare yourself to be the group's designated driver, I wish I could give you a medal of honor. It still would not be enough, but it would begin to show you how happy I am that I have one less person to worry about running me or my family down on the road because they were drinking.
With all that being said, let's get down to the nitty gritty.
Being a designated driver is not as hard as it is really put out there to be. I have always personally preferred to be the designated driver, mostly due to the fact that I do not prefer to get drunk in front of a bunch of strangers, and I like to be able to have enough control over myself to drive, even if it's just me. These can still be benefits to you though, if you are also a person who prefers to be in the driver's seat at all times.
First, let's go over the good qualities you see in a designated driver:
- Non-alcoholic. This person does not have any history of dirving drunk, or getting overly intoxicated. They also don't touch a lick of alcohol when you are with them. Instead, they have a soda, water, or other alcohol-free drink
- Responsible. This person has a clean driver's license, and a well-maintained vehicle. It has good tabs, good tires, and the title is in their name. A really good designated driver will generally ask everyone for an agreed time for the party to be over, before they have started drinking. This insures that the driver knows when everyone would like to be home, and then can make sure everyone is aware of what time it is and how long before they leave. When you've been drinking, the time tends to fly by, and it is to easy to let it go on forever. If one person wants to stay longer, then everyone else is forced to wait for them. If a time has been set before the party gets jumping, it will be easier when it is time to go, and there will be fewer hassles on the way to the door.
- Alert. A good designated driver is not overly tired, distracted or on some emotional binge. Alcohol is not the only thing that can cause you to veer off the road unexpectedly. Other sources, such as fatigue, drugs, illness, or extreme emotional conditions can also be a danger on the road, and you do not want a designated driver who is not alert at all time.
- Tolerant. An excellent designated driver has to be loaded with tolerance. You could almost call a designated driver a "drunk babysitter". This is not a bad thing in any way. A good designated driver is usually your friend, and not just some strange ad you called. They are usually there for the whole night, and they are more than willing to smile at your intoxicated antics. People who have become intoxicated, or even buzzed can sometimes cop an attitude, or start arguments, and they do not always realize they are yelling at or frustrating the one person who can insure them a safe ride home. Another benefit of having a tolerant driver is that they hopefully will not mind herding you and everyone else out the door to the car when the time is right.
- Caring. I really feel that the best quality you can find in a designated driver is that of caring and compassion. You see this quality in friends, family, and lovers. It basically means that they are not just there to get a little profit from driving you and your friends around. They are usually a part of the party, and are there for you and your friends whether the night goes well and everyone gets home safe, or they end up holding your hair while you desecrate the porcelain king. They are there, and they care.
Now, in order to be a designated driver, you really need to have all of the qualities. So, lets go over the list of Do's and Don't for being a good designated driver:
- Don't have a single drink. This includes having a drink before you leave for the party, and it means that you will not do anything else that will endanger you or your friends on the road. Don't give into any temptation to sneak a beer or drink. Even when you think you have another three hours to sober up, you never know when something will come up, and you might be asked to drive earlier than you had planned.
Do have a soda, water, or other non-alcoholic beverage. Not only are they better for you, but you probably have one or all of them on a regular basis. Choose something you like to drink at home. Even if you really want that flavor of your favorite alcoholic drink, do not give in. You can have it Virgin Style, which means they put all the ingredients in except the alcohol. Virgin beverages are almost always just as good as the alcoholic beverages anyways.
- Don't suddenly decide that you don't want to be the designated driver. Your friends are counting on you, and if you are not strong enough to be the designated driver, you can almost guarantee no one else is either.
Do remember to be tolerant and considerate to all of your designated drinkers. They choose you because you are hopefully a responsible caring friend that they feel they can trust. It is a great honor to be asked to be the designated driver.
- Don't leave anyone behind. Once you have been declared the designated driver, it is your responsibility to make sure everyone makes it home safely. Just because someone is taking forever, or has inadvertently upset you in the midst of their drinking, does not give you the right to leave them there.
- Do have a great time! There is no reason you should not be having just as good a time as everyone else. You were not chosen to be the designated driver just so that you would have a horrible time not drinking. Get up and dance, chat with your friends, or mingle around the party. Just because you are there to make sure everyone gets home safely, it does not mean that you can't explore the party or have a great time.
- Do feel proud of yourself. You having successfully removed a large number of intoxicated drivers from our precious road ways. Every time you declare to be a designated driver and succeed in your duty, so do ten other people. If we can keep that up, we can kill the heartbreak that comes from learning a loved one has been involved in a drunk driving accident.
Remember, it is not just your life you are endangering when you drink and drive. You have the potential to cause terrible amounts of damage to the lives of anyone who was in your way. Do not drive drunk, or buzzed. Even if you think that you are ok, don't do it! There is no reason you can't wait a couple hours, or for that matter, call a taxi or late night ride home service.
If the facts that are out there are not enough warning for you, or you don't care about yourself or others out there, then think about the things that can happen if that fun little trip doesn't kill you. Tickets for DUI's have and will continue to rise, starting from a $1500 ticket and up through license suspension or removal. You will also be required to spend time in an alcohol treatment program, and the government does not pay for them; instead, they require you to pay the thousands of dollars for you own foolishness, and then put you in prison if you cannot. One DUI can cost you more than $6,000-$10,000 dollars to limp away from, and that is no joke.
Sadly, neither of these important points reaches far enough around the world. Every day, and every night, another person is killed because someone else was driving drunk.
It is everyone's responsibility, including YOURS, to stop this from happening. Don't be a victim, be a savior; volunteer to be a designated driver today and save lives!
Amanda invites you to read her article, "Anatomy of a Codepentent Relationship."