How Bad Is The Teen DUI Problem?
Drinking and driving is dangerous and risky behavior at any age, but it is particularly so for young people, and especially for those under the age of 21. Young drivers are less experienced behind the wheel and are more likely to engage in other unsafe driving practices such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt. Adding alcohol to the list dramatically increases the chances that something bad will happen.
Many young drivers begin drinking at a young age. Nearly one in four high school seniors have reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks at a single sitting) at some point. That may not necessarily be surprising, but 16% of sophomores report doing the same, and more than 7% of eighth graders have engaged in binge drinking. Moreover, a majority of teen drinkers have reported getting drunk in the previous month.
What is the impact of teen drinking on their health?
According to the Surgeon General, about 5,000 people under the age of 21 die every year in alcohol-related incidents, including homicides, suicides and motor vehicle accidents.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 20, and nearly 2,000 young people are killed in car crashes every year in which underage drinking is involved. Moreover, young drivers (those under the age of 21) who drink are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident as drivers over the age of 21.
But drinking at a young age can have negative consequences in other ways as well. Teens who drink are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual activity than teens who do not drink. A teen who drinks – especially one who binge drinks – is also more likely to consider committing suicide, or actually attempt it. High school students who drink are more likely to use or abuse other substances such as drugs and inhalants. Drinking at a young age hinders brain development and may increase the likelihood that the young person will become addicted to alcohol.
Clearly, drinking at a young age has seriously negative consequences on every part of a teen’s life. Studies have shown that those who start drinking at a young age are more likely to become dependent on alcohol later in life. For young people, it is best to avoid alcohol until at least the legal drinking age, at which point they can make considered decisions about their lives as adults. However, if they have been charged with drunk driving, a DUI lawyer may be able to reduce the charges levied against the individual in the hopes of allowing the teen a second shot at making responsible decisions.