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Teens and Drunk Driving

If you have a son or daughter who is between the ages of 12 and 19, there’s a good chance that you’re concerned about them drinking alcohol and taking drugs. If your teen is 16 or older and they have a driver’s license, you may be worried about them drinking and driving or getting into a car with a friend who is under the influence.

As you know, teenagers are risk takers. Many of them have the misconception that they are invincible and that nothing bad will happen to them. They don’t know what they don’t know, so they’re more willing to engage in risky behaviors than adults. Not only that, but a lot of teens want to be liked by their peers so they’d rather succumb to peer pressure than say “no” to alcohol or drugs.

Raising a teenager can be scary business for a parent. Even straight A students who are active in the Scouts, their church, or in their school’s programs can make grave mistakes, such as drinking and driving.

The question is, how big of a problem is underage drinking and driving? Here are some statistics from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) to shed light on the subject:

  • Each year, underage drinking kills 4,700 people,
  • Teen alcohol use kills more people annually than illegal drugs,
  • When children start drinking when they’re young, they are 7 times more likely to be in a DUI crash,
  • Those high school students who consume alcohol or take drugs are 5 times more likely to be dropouts,
  • The leading cause of death for teens are car accidents, and about 25% of those accidents involve an underage driver who’s been drinking,
  • More than 40% of 10th graders in the U.S. consume alcohol, and
  • 1 in 7 teenagers in the U.S. binge drink, but only 1 in 100 parents believe that their own son or daughter binge drinks.

Aside from the DUI crashes, alcohol-related injuries and fatalities associated with teenage drinking and driving, there are other consequences of underage drinking that deserve mention. For starters, underage drinking loosens inhibitions, and can lead to aggression and “blacking out,” which can lead to risky sexual behavior in teens.

Male teens under the influence can be accused of date rape if an alleged victim was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was not able to “consent” to sex. Female teens under the influence of alcohol or drugs can engage in unprotected sex, or they can become easier targets for sexual predators.

Of course, when teens are under the influence of alcohol, they’re more likely to drink and drive, or get into the car with someone else who has been drinking.

Teens often think that they can “sober up” by drinking coffee or having an energy drink, but caffeine does not have any influence on blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In other words, the teen will be a “wide awake” drunk, but they’ll be just as drunk as before, if not more due to “rising BAC.”

Parents, please educate your teenagers about the dangers of underage drinking, especially about driving under the influence. If your teen is facing DUI charges in Orange County, contact us for help!