Teen drinking and driving is a dangerous and deadly combination. Parents all agree that teen drunk driving is a real problem in today's society where alcohol consumption is widely available. Pressure from peers compounds the situation and makes it difficult for these young minds to think correctly. In this article we will go over what teen drunk driving is and how you can counter it.
Teenagers, nowadays, are given many privileges even at a young age. One of these privileges is driving. In some states, a teenager, as young as 15, can get a license and drive.
There are advantages on letting teenagers drive at an early age.
- Teenagers learn how to be independent
- They can help their respective families and friends in chores and travel
- It is more convenient for the family if someone else other than the adults know how to drive
- Driving experience can also increase one’s skills, which leads to a better chance of employment
However, there are also disadvantages in teenage driving; one of which is teen drunk driving. Even though state laws prohibit people from buying alcohol until the age of 21, there are still many instances of teen drinking and driving.
Facts Behind Teen Drunk Driving
According to studies, 60% of teenagers have admitted to drinking alcohol. With this number, it is no surprise that studies also predicted that a teenager will die due to an alcohol crash every 15 minutes due to teen drinking and driving.
In 2011, a national survey found out that 24% teens had reported that they had ridden with a drunk driver. People under the age of 21 only account for 10% of licensed drivers but they are actually answerable for 17% of drunk driving-related accidents.
In a worldwide scale, 2,000 underage drinkers die each year because of drunk driving. This puts alcohol as the top three causes of death in teenage driving.
What can probably be the reason behind these sad numbers?
First, young drinkers tend to drink heavily. According to reports, the blood alcohol content of victims of drunk driving accidents is around 0.40, five times the legal limit.
Second, teenagers also drive recklessly and do not usually wear seat belts. These driving habits were observed in 74% of fatal drunk driving accidents involving young drivers. The attitude of young drivers can be attributed to their sense of newfound freedom and sense of control. This is a dangerous combination when paired with peer pressure and the burden of responsibility that young drivers tend to not handle well.
Third, young drivers usually have a low tolerance for alcohol. This low level of tolerance with the fact that some of these young drivers are also inexperienced makes it deadlier.
Penalties of Teen Drinking And Driving
Because teen drunk driving accidents have grave consequences, states have highly regulated teen drinking and driving with numerous laws and regulations.
States have imposed strict standards and penalties to deter teenagers from being reckless and to mandate parents and guardians to supervise their children.
Under the law, a teenager convicted of DUI will be penalized with the following:
- Suspension of driver license for a period of at least 6 months to a more than a year
- Fine and/or fees, which can be for administrative or punitive purposes depending on the state’s law
- Re-enrollment to a driving education school and/or alcohol education classes depending on the facts of the case
In addition, the car involved in the teen drunk driving accident can also be impounded.
Sometimes, in lieu of paying fines or other penalties, the law imposes community service. For worst case scenarios, imprisonment is also meted out. The duration of jail time depends on the degree of the offense and the law. The usual duration is 24 hours for first time offenders and for repeat offenders, it can be at least a year. As the damage from the accidents increases in gravity, the penalty also increases.
Preventing Teen Drunk Driving
Despite the sad reality of teen drunk driving, the good news is that it can be prevented. Parents, guardians, teachers, and others exercising authority over teenagers can do their own part in avoiding drunk driving accidents.
It has been shown in research that parental guidance and involvement, effective minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, and efficient driver licensing systems can help keep teenagers from driving intoxicated.
According to research, the most effective way of preventing teen drinking and driving is to educate them of the causes and effects of driving after drinking.
Parental involvement is the first and major factor in educating young drivers. Parents and guardians should focus on monitoring and restricting what new drivers can and cannot do.
One thing that parents can consider is to create a parent-teen driving agreement with their kids. Studies have found out that rules established by parents result to lower rates of risky driving behavior of new young drivers.
Aside from parents and guardians, teachers also have a hand in preventing drunk driving. Since proliferation of driving schools, teen drunk driving rates among high school students have decreased by 54%.
In addition, the government has installed graduated drivers license systems all over the country. GDL system changes from one state to another depending on the respective state’s priorities. With this improvement, driving licenses are now being given to people who are responsible and educated enough to handle the wheel.
Lastly, stricter teen drinking and driving penalties have also made a difference in the number of teen drunk driving accidents. According to recent studies, fear of being arrested or spending time in jail is an effective deterrent to drivers than the fear of getting into an accident. Studies also suggest that DUI checkpoints also serve as a deterrent.
The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Helps
Laws have played a major part in preventing teen drunk driving and accidents. One kind of law particularly is the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) law.
This law, which is enforced in every state, make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. One aspect of MLDA laws is the alcohol retailer compliance checks. This leads to reduced retail sales of alcohol to teenagers.
Another kind of law geared for teen drunk driving is the zero tolerance laws, which make it illegal in every state for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol. MLDA laws are usually enforced together with zero tolerance laws, thus leading to better regulation of teen driving and drinking.