This week (Oct 14-20, 2012) is National Teen Driver Safety Week. This year’s theme is ‘Share, NOT Scare.’ To honor this week we will be blogging about some of the issues surrounding teen driving. Today’s topic: Underage DUIs.
Let’s start by taking a look at some of the latest statistics about underage drinking in general.
- According to the CDC, alcohol is responsible for 4,700 annual deaths among underage youth.
- According to the Office Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, although the drinking age in every state in 21, people aged 12 to 20 consume 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
- The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days, 24% rode with a driver who had been drinking.
In every state in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, being 21 years of age or over, and driving with a BAC at or above .08 percent is considered a crime. However anyone less than 21 years of age caught driving with a BAC of .02 or above, can be charged with underage DUI. In some states the tolerance level for underage DUI is 0.00%!
The penalties for an underage DUI conviction are typically harsher because underage drivers are generally charged with at least two crimes: DUI and underage drinking.
Other underage charges can include:
- Child endangerment law violations
- Possession of false identification
- Minor in possession of alcohol
- Distributing alcohol to other minors
- Soliciting alcohol from an adult
In addition to the DUI penalties (loss of driving privileges, fines, jail time, community service), teens may also face suspension and/or expulsion from school, removal from extracurricular teams and denial of admission into college.
According to a 2012 study by Century Council, parents continue to be the #1 influence on whether or not a teen will drink alcohol, followed by teachers and friends.
Talk about the consequences of drinking and driving to the teens in your life and always give them an option to call you for a ride home on any night, at any time.