How To Be the Designated Driver—and Still Have Fun

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When your friend group is planning on a night out, choosing a designated driver is essential. But if you’re the chosen DD, you may wonder, “What are the ground rules, and how will I still enjoy myself?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun things to do when you’re the designated driver. Below, we’ll cover the responsibilities of designated driving and how you can still have a great night—even without alcohol.

What Is a Designated Driver & Why Are They Important?

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Photo by Wassim Chouak on Unsplash

A designated driver (DD) is someone who chooses to stay sober on a night out so they can get everyone home safely.

Why Is It Important To Have a Designated Driver?

DDs are essential because they save lives, prevent injuries, and improve safety for their friends and other people on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one person dies every 52 minutes from drunk driving in the United States. DDs are heroes for helping prevent incidents like these and making the world a safer place.

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What Is the Role of a Designated Driver?

A designated driver’s main role is to avoid drinking and ensure their friends get home without endangering themselves or others. This could also involve keeping an eye out for friends while still at the bar, but how actively the DD does this is up to their specific group.

If you want to know how to be a designated driver, it’s important to know the ground rules ahead of time. So, first things first: you should plan on not drinking any alcohol at all.

Can a DD Have One Drink?

Many people think a DD can still have a couple of drinks before driving, but this just isn’t the case. Research shows that only 0.02 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) can already impair your driving. This is only onefourth the legal limit, and can happen after only one beer, depending on your body weight.

So, with that in mind, you’ll want to avoid drinking at all throughout the night, and come prepared with some ways to resist the temptation.

Staying Sober and Sticking to the Plan as the Designated Driver

Here are some tips for sticking with your responsibilities as DD, and ensuring the night goes smoothly:

  • Make sure you’ve got a valid driver’s license and auto insurance, and that your vehicle is in good working order.
  • Know what you’ll order at the bar. Sodas, mocktails, or nonalcoholic brews are all good options. If you think it will be too tempting to order something alcoholic, avoid sitting near the bar.
  • Create a game plan before anyone drinks. Discuss when you’ll leave and where you’ll meet at the end of the night. This way, your friends won’t get too drunk, and you won’t have to chase them around the bar or party when you’re ready to head home.

How To Have Fun Without Drinking

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Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

A challenging part of being the DD is figuring out how to still have fun—without alcohol. This can be especially tough if you aren’t used to being the sober one on a night out.

Luckily, you absolutely can have a good time without drinking. Here are some tips to help you make that happen:

  • Take advantage of the perks: Some bars offer free sodas and other beverages to designated drivers. Ask the bartender!
  • Help decide where the destination of the night will be. If you choose a place that you know you’ll still enjoy sober, you’ll be golden.
  • Team up with another designated driver or a person who isn’t drinking. It can help to have someone who isn’t drunk to chat with. You can even share a laugh if your friends get up to something silly.
  • You can still hang out with your buzzed friends. Play pool, darts, or dance to pass the time. And remember: you’ll be the one with stories to tell about your friends’ funny antics the next morning!

The Bottom Line on Being the Designated Driver

You’ve got a lot of responsibility when you’re the designated driver, but you can rest assured knowing you’re doing a good deed. And beyond that, your friends will thank you endlessly for making their night safe and enjoyable.

To ensure you stick to your responsibilities, plan the ways you’ll have fun and avoid the temptation to drink throughout the night. With a little preparation, you’re bound to have a good time!

Looking for a way to curb your drinking on a night out? Learn how an app can help you cut back on binge drinking—without having to identify as an alcoholic.

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Written By:
Alicia Schultz
Alicia is a Minnesota-based freelancer who writes for Ria Health and various other brands in the health and wellness space. Beyond addiction and recovery, she also covers topics relating to general well-being, mindfulness, fitness, mental health, and more. When she’s not writing, you can find her relaxing with her three-legged cat, trying new workout routines, and spending time with her loved ones.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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