About ten percent of the licensed drivers on the road at any time are under the age of 21. This demographic is also responsible for more than 16 percent of fatal vehicle accidents that involve alcohol. This is upsetting since these drivers are not permitted to legally purchase or consume alcohol. An underage person can’t have any alcohol in their system. If they are driving and get caught by law enforcement with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or above, they will face serious consequences. Young people need to realize that all the consequences associated with underage drinking and driving can be easily avoided.
Underage Drinking and Driving Dangers
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) did a study and concluded that more young people will intentionally abuse alcohol over any other substance. The demographic of young people 12 to 20 years old make up over 9 percent of alcohol consumption in the country. Teens are more likely than adults to binge drink. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that students in high school drive intoxicated over 2 million times a month.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains statistics of fatal roadway crashes. According to NHTSA records, vehicle crashes involving individuals 16 to 20 years old are increasing. The number of young drivers involved in fatal vehicle accidents has increased by over 3.5 percent since 2015. Deaths resulting from drivers of this demographic have risen 0.1 percent. Over a third of fatal vehicle accidents among individuals in this demographic involve alcohol.
When an underage person is found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI), they will face serious consequences such as major fines, suspension of license, and more. The severity of the punishment will vary from one state to another. Some states will impound the vehicle driven and require the offender to be placed in a juvenile detention center or jail. This can happen even when someone is a first-time offender. It is a conviction that will go on a young person’s permanent record, thus harming future insurance rates, employment, and more.
Discouraging Underage Drinking and Driving
It is up to the adults in a young person’s life to model safe behavior and work at discouraging young people from drinking and driving. One successful method is for families to abstain from having alcohol in their homes. If this isn’t possible, then alcohol should be locked up. Older siblings of legal drinking age need to be reminded they are to not supply any alcohol to their younger siblings and that doing so is damaging and illegal. Regular conversations with young adults about the risks and punishments associated with alcohol misuse can go a long way.
Drinking and Driving Is A Choice
Underage adult children need to be taught that drinking and driving is an active choice. (It should be noted that in Pennsylvania, 18-20-year-olds are considered adults, but they are still considered underage for drinking.) When they do this, they are making a conscious moral choice. It shows they have no regard for the safety of others on the road, their safety or the safety of their passengers.
Underage adults need to realize that drinking and driving are not worth the risks. One small mistake after doing something foolish could have a lifelong impact. They need to realize that all the consequences associated with underage drinking and driving can be easily avoided.