Teenagers and a DUI in New York

It is illegal in most states for minors to be partaking of alcohol, marijuana, and other controlled substances, and to drive while doing so puts them in double jeopardy. Yet, teenagers are doing so at alarming regularity. Some studies show that 70 percent of teenagers drink alcohol, and 60 percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol-related. So, why do teenagers drink and then drive?

The answer varies, but I am sure the reason why most teenagers drink and then drive has not really changed all that much since I was a teenager some 45 years ago.

I can remember like it was just yesterday. I was home from my first semester in college, and I met my older brother in the bigger city at a nightclub some 30 miles from where I grew up. Many of our friends from our small hometown were there including Chris and Vance, who, like me, were underage. My brother was one of the few in our group who was of age.  Even in those days when we had no computer at home, we all had learned the art of faking our identification. Being 19, it was fun to be able to go to a nightclub, drink, dance, and meet new girls. After all, it was simply just socializing, something we had seen our parents do all our young lives.

Of course, the night must always come to an end, and just as sure as the sun was going to come up the next morning, we were still 30 miles from home. Having consumed more than the legal limit of alcohol, we each mounted our trusty vehicles and drove back home. My brother and I left a little earlier than our friends, something to do with the next morning. By the grace of God, I like to think, we made it back safely to our cozy beds our Mom had so lovingly made for us. Vance and Chris were not so lucky.

Driving a 1965 Ford Mustang, the cops estimated they were doing 105 mph when they hit the curve just four miles from their own safe and cozy bed. The curve was sharp and had multiple telephone poles sunk into the ground with a one inch steel cable passing through them acting as a guard rail. Four of the poles were no match for the mass of the Mustang’s steel as it tumbled and rolled, snapping the poles like breaking tooth picks. Both Chris and Vance, not wearing seat belts, were thrown from the vehicle.

Vance was killed instantly when he landed directly on his neck breaking it in multiple places, and Chris died in the hospital earlier that morning having lost his lower jaw, they later said, when the Mustang rolled over him. Was this just another case of a teenage alcohol related accident? Being a small town, there was never a need to publicly humiliate the parents by announcing the blood alcohol content of the boys, but my brother and I, who had partied the previous night with Chris and Vance,  knew the real truth. The local police never asked us about where we were that fatal night, but the memories still haunt me to this day.

We all have to get from one place to the next, and socializing is in our nature. Before you consider drinking and driving in New York, please know that regardless of whether or not you are a teenager, a first time DUI conviction can cost you up to a $1000 fine, up to one year in jail, a driver’s license suspension for six months, a mandatory conviction surcharge, being ordered for alcohol screening and evaluation prior to sentencing, and the knowledge a conviction goes on a permanent criminal record that is public information.

If you are a teenager or have a teenager that has recently been accused of a DUI in Albany, Schenectady, or Troy, New York, you are going to need professional help. Contact us right now and we will help you find a traffic attorney in your area who is not only understanding of the laws affecting teenage drunk driving, but they remember and understand what it was like when they were a teenager. They were once young, but they grew up, and now, they want to help you.

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