Designated driver

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A designated driver on New Year's Eve 2011 WhovianVaCDesignatedDriver.JPG
A designated driver on New Year's Eve 2011

The terms "designated driver" and "designated driving" (commonly known as DD), refer to the selection of a person who remains sober as the responsible driver of a vehicle whilst others have been allowed to drink alcoholic beverages.


Thus as a practical and ethical matter a designated driver is a person who abstains from alcohol on a social occasion in order to drive his or her companions home safely as an alternative to driving under the influence. In order to encourage these arrangements, some bar, restaurant and nightclub proprietors will offer free or reduced-price soft drinks to designated drivers. [1]


The designated driver concept was developed in Scandinavia over several decades beginning in the 1920s, leading to a formalized designated driver program in the 1980s. [2] The program was introduced in Canada in 1986 by Hiram Walker and Sons as "The Canadian Club Designated Driver Program". The program was accepted readily and supported by the police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the hospitality industry and the public. There were few if any detractors. The program was heavily promoted by Hiram Walker's President Doug Young and the company's PR agency Marshall Fenn Limited led by David Butler. The concept swept Canada, the United States and many other countries during 1986.

The concept was imported to the United States on a large scale in 1988 through the Harvard Alcohol Project, [2] an initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Health Communication, led by Jay Winsten. With heavy involvement by television networks and Hollywood studios, the campaign popularized the concept through public service announcements, as well as the encouragement of drunk driving prevention messages and designated driver references in popular television programs, [2] such as Cheers , L.A. Law , and The Cosby Show . The U.S. Department of Transportation used public affairs commercials with the phrase "friends don't let friends drive drunk". [2]

President Bill Clinton participated in the designated driver campaign throughout his presidency, taping public service announcements each year at the request of the Harvard Alcohol Project. [3] [4] With the endorsement of a broad range of individuals and organizations, designated driving became a national movement, with "designated driver" becoming a common phrase. Based on several polls indicating an increase in designated driving practices since the start of the initiative, the campaign is credited as a contributing factor to the decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities between 1988 and 1994. [5]

Since 2005, the spirits company Diageo has used a similar concept in Brazil to discourage drunk driving. Called Piloto da Vez, the campaign was born with the sponsorship of McLaren. Juan Pablo Montoya, Mika Häkkinen and Lewis Hamilton have participated in the campaign.


Though designated drivers are popular, groups often fail to use them properly. [6] Often, there is a failure of those groups to designate the driver prior to making travel arrangements and arrive in separate vehicles. Even when a group does share a vehicle, it is not always the case that the designated driver remains sober. Failures to require driver abstinence or limitation of consumption is another problem. One study conducted at the Tijuana/San Diego border found that by asking groups intent on drinking to identify the designated driver prior to entering the bar district, the driver later returned with substantially lower BACs compared with the control groups. [7]

Advocacy groups

Various college and high school organizations, such as RamRide at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, CARPOOL at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, or Drive Safe Kalamazoo, at Western Michigan University and BUSY at Gulfport High School in Gulfport, Mississippi offer to give free rides home on weekend nights to fellow students.


United States

Numerous businesses have sprouted up across the United States to help address the problem of drinking and driving. Some transport their drivers home, as passengers, using one of three methods: car, collapsible scooter, or foldable bike. These are not necessarily true designated driver programs, but instead Safe Ride programs, as the sober driver is not designated from within the natural drinking group. [8] Designated Drivers, Inc, was founded in 1998 and later based out of Las Vegas, NV. This company has used two person teams: one person to drive the impaired individual in their own vehicle, and the other person as the follow driver. Pittsburgh's Pear Transportation Company, aka The Pear Cares, has also become well known for using the two-person team approach. [9] Dryver, formerly known as BeMyDD, established itself by offering designated driver services for events, car pickups for drivers who are too impaired to make it home, and personal drivers for evenings out. [10] NightRiders, Incorporated was the first company to use collapsible, motorized scooters in the US. The drivers drove customers home using their own vehicles, stowing a scooter in the customer's trunk (or truck). Upon arrival to the customer's destination, the driver parked the vehicle, collected the fare, assembled the scooter from the vehicle, and rode off to the next customer. This company is now out of business, according to their website. Zingo Transportation has operated this kind of service in southern US cities since 2005.

South Korea

Designated driver services in South Korea are widely prevalent and in high demand, especially in major cities such as Seoul and Busan. Designated driver call centers operate as a central dispatch with some vendors providing mobile apps to request a driver. The driver arrives at the location of the customer's vehicle and will drive it to the requested location for a fee. The Korean language word for these designated drivers for hire is 'dae-ri un-jeon' (대리운전) meaning replacement driver. According to the Korea Service Driver Society, an estimated 100,000 replacement drivers handle 700,000 customers a day across the country (2007) [11]


Designated driver services in Australia exist in many capital cities and regional towns. The service is in high demand due to highly regulated, unreliable taxi services. [12]

New Zealand

In 2017, Coca-Cola announced a promotion to encourage people to have sober drivers by offering free Coca-Cola. [13]



Canada has a long history with designated driver services provided by private enterprise going back to 1996 in Ontario. One of central Ontario's largest designated driver services CABn aHALF has transported thousands of clients home over the years. In the last 5 to 6 years, a number of designated driving services have cropped up all over the province with companies such as The DD Service bringing technology and professionalism to industry. [14]

British Columbia

B.C. has a huge market of designated driver services and new ones are created monthly. Companies throughout the province work 7 days a week to drive intoxicated individuals home in their own vehicles for a fee. If you expect customer service it is not the goal. The DD industry is not regular means for travel but a lifeline service [15]


The designated driver services in China are still in their initial stages. Some companies provide professional services for public such as Hong Kong Designated Driver Limited (HKDD) or easydrive, which help individuals to safely get home in their own cars. HKDD provides Android and iOS mobile apps for their users. [16] [17]


British Columbia, Canada

Some designated driver services have formed a special bond between breathalyzer manufacturers/distributors. They operate by combining their services at the point of sale during a special licensed event. Such events have been the Rockin' River Music Festival (2013), and Gone Country: Here for the Cure (2013). By allowing guests to know whether they are legal to drive and educate them on the current local laws concerning DUI, this method has been shown to reduce the potential for incidence related to drinking and driving. All intoxicated persons can be referred to waiting drivers on standby to take them home in their own vehicle safely. Currently only one company in Canada, Canadian Breath Analyzer or CBAC" conducts operations with local licensed designated driver services.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Blood alcohol content Metric of alcohol intoxication

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of alcohol intoxication used for legal or medical purposes. A BAC of 0.10 means that there are 0.10 g of alcohol for every 100 ml of blood which is the same as 21.7 mmol/l. A BAC of 0.0 is sober, while in the United States 0.08 is legally intoxicated, and above that is very impaired. BAC levels above 0.40 are potentially fatal.

Drunk driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle with the operator's ability to do so impaired as a result of alcohol consumption, or with a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit. For drivers 21 years or older, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For drivers under 21 years old, the legal limit is lower, with state limits ranging from 0.00 to 0.02. Lower BAC limits apply when operating boats, airplanes, or commercial vehicles. Among other names, the criminal offense of drunk driving may be called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), operating [a] vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), or operating while impaired (OWI).

Driving under the influence Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance

Driving under the influence (DUI) is the crime or offense of driving or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a nonprofit organization in the United States and Canada that seeks to stop drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and strive for stricter impaired driving policy, whether that impairment is caused by alcohol or any other drug. The Irving, Texas–based organization was founded on September 5, 1980, in California by Candace Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver. There is at least one MADD office in every state of the United States and at least one in each province of Canada. These offices offer victim services and many resources involving alcohol safety. MADD has claimed that drunk driving has been reduced by half since its founding.

Ignition interlock device breathalyzer connected to a vehicles engine

An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer for an individual's vehicle. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting or continuing to operate the vehicle. If the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from being started. The interlock device is located inside the vehicle, near the driver’s seat, and is directly connected to the engine’s ignition system. It is a form of electronic monitoring.

Public intoxication, also known as "drunk and disorderly" and drunk in public, is a summary offense in some countries rated to public cases or displays of drunkenness. Public intoxication laws vary widely from jurisdiction, but usually require some obvious display of intoxicated incompetence or behavior disruptive/obnoxious to public order before the charge is levied.

Bob campaign

The Bob campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of drink-driving; drivers with high blood alcohol content are at increased risk of car accidents, highway injuries and vehicular deaths. Alongside the general information that is offered during the campaign, there is an increased police surveillance, especially during the weeks running up to Christmas and New Year's Eve. Most of all, the campaign focuses on a designated driver approach.

NightRiders, Incorporated was the first U.S. designated-driver-for-hire service to use collapsible motor scooters, also known as monkey bikes.

Random checkpoint A temporary military or police roadblock set up in a semi-random location, e.g. to search for contraband or fugitives, or to identify intoxicated drivers

A random checkpoint is a military and police tactic. In a military context, checkpoints involve the setup of a hasty roadblock by mobile truck- or armored vehicle-mounted infantry to disrupt unauthorized or unwanted movement or military activity and to check for valid identification and search for contraband, fugitives, or weapons that are not permitted in civilian hands. Random checkpoints are set up to achieve surprise, as opposed to known permanently located checkpoints, which suspects could circumvent. They are often established in locations where they cannot be observed by approaching traffic until it is too late to withdraw and escape without being observed.

A DR10 is a United Kingdom motoring endorsement issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and UK Police which means driving or attempting to drive with a blood alcohol level above the allowable limit. Following an arrest for a DR10 one can expect a ban from driving and a fine. In more serious cases, a Community Order, or a prison term of up to 6 months may be issued.

Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (, formerly known as the Century Council, is a Virginia-based American not-for-profit organization founded in 1991 and funded by a group of distillers that aims to fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and promotes responsible decision-making regarding alcohol use.

Impaired driving is the term used in Canada to describe the criminal offence of operating, having care or the control of a motor vehicle while the person's ability to operate the motor vehicle is impaired by alcohol or a drug. Impaired driving is punishable under multiple offences in the Criminal Code, with greater penalties depending on the harm caused by the impaired driving. It can also result in various types of driver's licence suspensions.

The laws of driving under the influence vary between countries. One difference is the acceptable limit of blood alcohol content before a person is charged with a crime.

Alcohol laws of Massachusetts

The serving of alcohol in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is governed by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC), which is responsible for issuing licenses and permits for all manufacturers, wholesalers and importers, out-of-state suppliers, brokers, salespeople, warehouses, planes, trains, ships, ship chandlers and vehicles transporting alcoholic beverages.

Drunk drivers People driving under the influence of alcohol

People driving under the influence of alcohol are referred to as drunk drivers or drink-drivers.

Alcohol-related traffic crashes in the United States Alcohol-related if either a driver or a non-motorist had a measurable or estimated BAC of 0.01 g/dl or above

Alcohol-related traffic crashes are defined by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as alcohol-related if either a driver or a non-motorist had a measurable or estimated BAC of 0.01 g/dl or above.

Driver rehabilitation is a type of rehabilitation that helps individuals facing challenges caused by a physical or cognitive impairment or age to achieve safe, independent driving or transportation options through education or information dissemination. Professionals who work in the field use adaptive equipment and modified vehicles to help people attain independent community mobility.

A sobering center is a facility or setting providing short-term recovery, detoxification, and recuperation from the effects of acute alcohol or drug intoxication. Sobering centers, instead, are fully staffed facilities providing oversight and ongoing monitoring throughout the sobering process. Sobering centers include alternatives to jail and emergency departments, as well as drop-in centers”. There are small numbers of sobering centers around the world. There are over 40 sobering centers in the United States, with dozens more in development.

Driving under the influence (DUI) occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or when the driver has a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. Minors can be charged with impaired driving based on blood alcohol levels of 0.01 or higher, and CDL license holders can be charged based upon blood alcohol levels of 0.04 or higher.

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation

The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation is a Crown Agency that sells lottery products, operates the Winnipeg casinos and is responsible for the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in the Canadian province of Manitoba. It was created in 2013 with the merger of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) and Manitoba Lotteries Corporation (MLC). Its headquarters are located in the provincial capital, Winnipeg.


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