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Denver DUI Defense Attorney talks About the History of the Designated Driver


January 4, 2017

The “designated driver" or DD refers to the person who remains sober while drinking and is the responsible driver of a vehicle, so that others in their group can drink alcoholic beverages. You may think that the term has been commonplace in America for decades, but this idea is a relatively new concept. In the late 1980s, the leading cause of death for Americans aged 15 to 24 was drunk driving. So Harvard University’s School of Public Health set out to do something about it. Here, your DUI defense attorney offers information about the history of the “DD” in America.

It Began in College Town, America.

In 1988 the Harvard Alcohol Project launched a new social concept - the “designated driver”. Even though similar concepts had been utilised in other countries, this was new to the United States thanks to the Harvard University School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication. The concept was launched to introduce change in social drinking, and to challenge the popular – and deadly – convention of drinking and driving. Partnering with Hollywood studios and television broadcast networks to release a series of public service announcements aimed at drunk driving prevention. Today we know drunk driving is not okay, but before this it was normal to drink and drive. The U.S. Department of Transportation also joined in this movement and coined the phrase, "friends don't let friends drive drunk", using it in public affairs commercials.

Leaders in government, including President George Bush and President Bill Clinton, as well as prominent figures in sports and entertainment, lent their support to the designated driving movement. By 1991, the term “designated driver” had been added to the dictionary. At that time, the national dialogue on the effects of drinking and driving was at an all-time high, while alcohol-related traffic fatalities were at an all-time low, proving that the message was well received by many Americans.

Doing Good and Saving Lives

In 1988 when the designated driver project began, alcohol-related fatalities were at a an all time high, and the study showed a decrease in alcohol related deaths by 24% in 1992 and 1994 again. So the Alcohol Project’s success in bringing the concept of a designated driver into American consciousness is well established in recent American history.

Alcohol impaired driving caused a total of 9,967 deaths in 2014, lower than previous years. The general trend shows fewer and fewer people being killed in alcohol related traffic accidents each year. Thankfully, more people are being careful and the emergence of low cost taxi services has helped. However, if you are facing DUI or DWAI charges in Denver or the surrounding area and are in need of a DUI attorney, contact the Law Office of John L. Buckley, because DUI charges can be complicated. We will defend you against these charges, explore every possible defense, and minimize the impact of the charges on your life. Our mission is to provide you with the best possible legal defense through zealous representation, as well as personal attention to every part of your case. Call our office for help at 303-501-1800.