Designated Drivers: Study Shows Some Still Drink Alcohol Before Driving

Your DD may not be so "designated" after all, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Florida found that 35 percent of designated drivers had actually drank alcohol, and 18 percent had a blood-alcohol level of .05 or higher. Right now, .08 is the cutoff in all 50 states for prosecuting drunk driving, but the National Transportation Safety Board recommended earlier this year to lower that level to .05, NBC News reported.

"If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they're chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past -- successful meaning got home in one piece ... that's disconcerting," study researcher Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the university, said in a statement.

The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, included 1,071 people with an average age of 28, most of whom were white males. All the participants were leaving bars over six Friday nights sometime between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m during the fall of 2011. The researchers picked these Friday nights because they were after home football games.

All the study participants were quickly interviewed and then had their blood alcohol levels taken with a breath-testing device. There were 165 people who identified themselves as being the designated driver for that night.

Researchers found that 35 percent of those who said they were the DD had drank alcohol. Plus, 17 percent of the DDs had BACs between 0.2 and 0.49.

"That's the insidious nature of alcohol -- when you feel buzzed, you're drunk," Barry said in the statement.

Scarily, risky drinking and driving behavior isn't all too uncommon, found a 2010 study from the University of Maryland. According to that study, researchers found that nearly half of underage college students had drank any amount of alcohol before driving, and about 20 percent drove while being drunk.

Of course, alcohol isn't the only thing that can impair driving. Studies have also shown that drowsy driving can impair road skills just as much as driving intoxicated. And while the jury is still out on whether it's as bad as drunk driving, some research suggests talking on a hands-free cell phone while driving can also hinder reaction times.