One would think that with all the efforts to discourage drunken driving in this country over the past few decades — by parents, educators, the media and government — a story like the one in Thursday’s Gazette, about Saratoga Springs police reporting a noticeable increase in the use of designated drivers over Super Bowl weekend, wouldn’t even be newsworthy.
Indeed, there has been considerable progress with DWI nationally since the early 1980s, as evidenced by the more-than-50-percent-drop in annual alcohol-related fatalities since that time. But anyone who follows the news even remotely knows, anecdotally at least, that on any given weekend, there are still plenty of people drinking and driving, and enough who kill themselves or innocent people in the process, that it’s not considered shocking when one does.
So Thursday’s story — at least the part about Saratoga Springs police not busting a single motorist for DWI over a weekend that, with a lot of people, has become as much about beer as it is football; and of observing a “ton” of designated drivers both then and during a Beer Week promotion that ended Sunday — was rather heartening.
Albany County’s Super Bowl weekend experience wasn’t quite as impressive — out of 714 stops, 29 DWI arrests were made — but police also reported a large number (58) of designated drivers in the stops they made.
The “DD” is an all-too-reasonable solution. As long as one person in the car agrees to stay sober (and some bars give them free soft drinks as an enticement) everyone else can paint the town. And groups of friends that go out frequently together can take turns or draw straws, as workers sometimes do among themselves to decide vacations or days off, to decide.
Driving drunk is just too costly, from a safety standpoint if you crash and a financial one if you get caught, but a lot of the time people lose their ability to make this judgment once they’ve been drinking. That’s why deciding in advance, appointing a DD, is the way to go.