Reality Check on Teen Drinking and Driving

Every 22 minutes, someone dies in a drinking and driving accident. About one third of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. According to Buzzle.com, citing a U.S. Department of Transportation study, “out of 12,998 drinking driving fatalities in the United States in 2007, 1,393 were caused due to teen drinking and driving.” It gets even worse. Over 25% of teenagers killed in car accidents were drinking before driving or while driving. And many also forget to put their seat belts on.

This guide will point out the main dangers of teen drinking, how drinking will affect you, what laws are in place, how teens can be safer drivers, and what happens if you get DUI charges.

What does drinking do to you?
Many teens equate partying with drinking, of getting a “buzz” or just flat out partying. It’s of course not possible to stop all teen drinking. However, the facts can be a good warning. Drinking affects your ability to walk, speak, and see. These are integral processes, especially being able to see as you drive and having full control of your body. Further, drinking slows down your reaction times, impairs memory, can confuse you mentally, slows down the nerves that move your eyes, hurts muscle coordination, and also can hurt you over longer periods such as with liver disease. And alcohol poisoning itself kills many teens not used to drinking large amounts.

If you have slower reaction times, that is obviously a major danger. If you cannot see well, if your memory on how to drive and follow driving laws is hurt, if you even pass out while driving—these can all lead to an accident and sometimes a death.

So we know how drinking effects you. Now let’s go over the legal ramifications.

Minor DUI Laws
It’s illegal to drink under the age of 21, but as high schools and colleges can tell you, it’s not a law followed by many. This is natural. One of the reasons for the drinking age is related to minors who drink and drive and are severely injured if not die. People used to drinking may be able to drive with some alcohol in their system, while an underage drinker may experience the effects much more. Since thousands die every year in alcohol related accidents, it’s important to note the dangers. And since over 1,000 of these deaths are related to teen drinking, it’s important to avoid ever drinking as driving.

State laws differ on how teen drivers are punished for intoxication. Some treat the problem much more seriously than others. However, since a minor breaks the law simply by drinking, most states penalize teen offenders more severely. Even if you have a .02% level, you can be charged with a DUI as a teen offender.

What can parents do?
If you’re a parent, it’s important to make clear the dangers of drinking and driving. We all go through our teens, perhaps breaking the rules ourselves. However, there is a big difference between having some fun and putting you or another person’s life in danger. It’s not the place of this blog post to say how you explain it to them, but keeping teens aware of the reality behind drinking and driving is important.

How to Get Legal Help
When a teen is charged with a DUI, the penalties can be very stiff. If you have no license, for example, it can be even worse. If you drank at all, the officer can arrest you. The important thing here is to get proper legal representation. The courts will take this charge very seriously, and you should too.

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