Teenage drunk driving is a serious concern in today’s society. Teenage drunk driving is the cause of one-quarter of all motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 20. It is estimated that one teen is killed every hour in the United States because of teenage drunk driving. In order to better understand teenage drunk driving, it is helpful to look at the prevalence of teen drinking, the factors involved in teenage drunk driving, and the laws governing the punishment of teenage drunk driving.
Approximately seventy percent of all teenagers have consumed alcohol before their twenty-first birthdays. In 1995, it was estimated that ten million drinkers were under the legal drinking age. Underage drinking accounts for ten to twenty percent of all alcohol consumption in the United States. The consequences of underage drinking, including teenage drunk driving, cost an estimated fifty-three billion dollars in losses every year.
People aged 15 to 20 comprise less than seven percent of the total US population. Fourteen percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involve teenage drunk driving. Teenage drunk driving is more likely to occur during nighttime hours (between 9 pm and 6 am) when more than one teenager is driving in a motor vehicle. Males are more likely to be involved in teenage drunk driving accidents than females, though the percentage of females involved in teenage drunk driving accidents is increasing.
Teenage drunk driving poses a threat to everyone on the road. Teenagers put themselves at greater risk of injury when involved in teenage drunk driving situations because they take greater risks and exercise less caution. Sixty-five percent of all teens killed in an accident were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident, compared to seventy-five percent of teenage drunk driving participants who were not wearing their seatbelt at the time of an accident.
In reaction to teenage drunk driving statistics, states have enacted harsher penalties to punish teens that drink and drive. Most states have adopted zero-tolerance laws which make it a crime for a teenager to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any amount of alcohol. In addition to harsh penalties for teenage drunk driving, it is also a crime in most states for a minor to drink, possess, transport, buy or even try to buy alcohol. Parents can be penalized for furnishing alcohol to minors, especially in cases where teenage drunk driving was involved.
If you have been involved in a teenage drunk driving incident, you may wish to speak to a qualified attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and options in a case. Because the laws vary by state and circumstance, a knowledgeable attorney can best help protect your interests in a teenage drunk driving case.