In Britain in recent years there have been schemes in place to provide free or discounted soft drinks to designated drivers during holiday times. But what about the rest of the year? When a group of friends, all of whom are drinkers, were out together, has experience shown that it is insulting to designated driver's good intentions for members of a group of friends to buy the soft drinks?
Think of the situation as if you were the designated driver, if you are out with your friends would you demand to be compensated? Probably not.
On the other hand, if you were driving your friends around all night, would you decline being compensated? Probably not.
It is always a nice gesture to buy your friends a drink (Alcoholic or Otherwise), or give them gas money, but I would have a hard time having a steadfast rule as to whether or not tips/compensation should be demanded among a group of friends.
Can only speak from personal experience; but I've usually found that the DD will get a soft drink bought for them in any "round" without having to buy a round later themselves.
Should “Designated Drivers” be compensated by their friends?
They already are: they bring them home safely. They can share another event all of them together later. What could be more valuable?
As I drink only water and soft drinks, I'm a long-time Designated Driver, and the best reward I actually had from my friends was them folks Staying Alive. I don't need more, I don't want more :)
That should be the only goal of any DD: get your buddies safe back home. If they buy you a drink (or not) doesn't matter, really. You do that (drive) for friendship's sake.
They don't even pay for the gas (I can afford this, and don't care anyway), but once in a while, they invite you and pay the bill, or we all gather at their home for dinner or to watch a game. It's not even a compensation, as there's no need for such things amongst friends.
But they show how they appreciate you being around and taking care of them.
When you protect your friends, you don't need gas or drink, just wings, because you're an angel :) See it that way, as they normally do, that'll be fine, that's what friends are for...
Eternal designated driver speaking here.
My reward is to get on the wheel
That's a pleasure to be the one who will get to drive the car. Even more interesting is to get to drive each of my friends car, some more interesting than others. Besides, I don't particularly like the taste of alcohol, but I would rather drive than getting to drink whatever else I wanted, unless if it was for free of course (but this never happened).
It is difficult to assert this situation without knowing the person. Some people think it is a sacrifice to drive and say they like to drink a lot. Many people also lie about that and just want the compensation for the "favor". One day my uncle was bragging about being the one who was chauffeuring everyone during a long trip on a nice rental car so I offered to drive all the time until he snapped at me, since he was actually eager to drive that car.