It's all right to go out on the town and drink. And it's also all right to drive. But it's not all right to do them both at the same time.
That deadly combination, however, is a frighteningly common occurrence in Orange County, where there are about a million undetected impaired driving trips each year, according to Janet Cater, the executive director of the Orange County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And about half of those involve people who have been drinking in a restaurant or bar.
A MADD pilot program being tried in the county is being aimed at those restaurant and bar customers to promote more responsible drinking habits and to put only sober people behind the wheel. Called the "designated driver," the approach could be as safe as it is simple.
All it involves is for participating restaurants and bars to serve free non-alcoholic drinks to one person designated as the driver for a group of two or more people. All the designated driver has to do in return for the free drinks is promise to stay sober--and drive home the others who are drinking.