In 2005 the Center for Disease Control conducted a Youth Risk Behavior Survey. They found that 28.5% of students nationwide had, at some point during the 30 days preceding the study, ridden in a car or other vehicle that was driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol. Additionally, they found that 9.9% of students nationwide had driven a car or other vehicle while they had been drinking alcohol during the 30 days preceding the survey.
Differences Between Adults and Underage Drinkers
While adults usually drink in restaurants or bars, underage drinkers usually drink in remote locations, like at a camping site or a beach party. They also tend to congregate in large numbers at private homes, in parks or concerts. Underage drinkers often drink at different times of the day, for example after school. Citations for adult drinking and driving usually occur between 2 A.M. and 3 A.M.
Underage drinkers are less experienced drivers and less experienced drinkers. Underage drunk drivers have more fatalities at lower Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels than adult drivers. To combat this, many states have zero-tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving.
Zero tolerance laws target drivers that are under the legal drinking age. Drivers under age 21 can be penalized for any trace of alcohol in their system. States that don’t have zero tolerance laws have stricter penalties for underage drinking and driving. Also, underage drinkers will face additional charges because just consuming alcohol is illegal. In some cases the parents of the teen or another adult that furnished the alcohol can be held accountable for any injuries or damages caused by the underage DUI.
Underage Drinking and Driving Statistics
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2007, 28% of 16 to 20 year old drivers that were fatally injured in car accidents had BACs of 0.08 or higher. Also, drivers age 16 to 20 with BACs of 0.05 to 0.08 are far more likely to be killed in a single-vehicle crash than sober teenage drivers:
- 17 times more likely for males
- 7 times more likely for females
At BACs of 0.08 to 0.10 it goes up to 52 times more likely to be killed for males and 15 times more likely for females.
Underage drinking and driving is a serious problem. Drivers age 16 to 20 already make up a large percentage of vehicle accidents because of their inexperience. Lack of driving experience combined with their inexperience with the effects of alcohol is very dangerous for them and for all the other people on the road.
This article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact an attorney in your local area for more information about DUI/DWI Law.
Additional Legal Guidance: DWI Attorney Michael Lowe. Serving clients in Dallas, Texas.