Designated Driver (DD) Difficulties

You’re a young 20-year-old adult who’s attending a gathering to serve as Designated Driver for some of your friends who are drinking alcoholic beverages.

You’re not consuming a single drop of alcohol, you’re a good role model as Designated Driver, you’re being a responsible friend, and you could be arrested and charged with a crime! Incredible as it seems, in many states a 20-year-old adult can be arrested for merely being at a gathering or party at which alcohol is present. The completely innocent person can be convicted for possessing alcohol without any evidence whatsoever other than being at the gathering. And for this people can be plagued for life with a criminal record that ruins their chances for many jobs and professions.

A school district in California will now reduce, but not eliminate, the additional punishment that it imposes on such good Samaritans and other innocents but only if they can prove by a police-administered breathalyzer test that they had no alcohol in their blood.

That may seem reasonable, but the police say they don’t always have enough breath estimators to test every young person at a party. Unfortunately, the policy seems to violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees the free right of assembly. And it also seems to violate a fundamental principle of American justice, which is that everyone is always assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. It’s under dictatorships that people are assumed guilty and must prove their innocence, as many young citizens are being forced to do.

If a police-administered breathalyzer test indicates that a person has not consumed any alcohol but is found at a party or gathering where alcohol is present, the school district policy now requires that the student be punished by completing 20 hours of community service!

This is justice?



  • Allen, Kari. District 203 revises punishments for alcohol, drug violations. Daily Herald, June 22, 2004; the Constitution of the United States of America.

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