Drunk Mother Lets Drunk 13-Year-Old Drive. What Was She Thinking?

underage-designated-driverRecently a car was pulled over for erratic driving in Santa Fe. But this was not the run-of-the-mill traffic arrest. As it turned out, the driver – a designated driver, no less – was 13 years old.

The mother, who was also intoxicated, had pressed her 13-year-old son into service because apparently she didn’t feel sober enough to drive. This was a problem for obvious reasons:

  • The son did not know how to drive
  • The son had no driver’s license
  • The son was himself drunk

Once again, alcohol proves that it is better at causing people to make bad decisions than just about anything else.

One might ask if a minor with no license can be charged with DWI. The answer is yes. In fact, the boy is facing aggravated DWI charges for refusing a sobriety test, as well as driving without a license and not staying within a lane. So an unlicensed driver can still be charged with the same driving offenses as a licensed one.

How the prosecution will proceed is, of course, a different matter, given that the defendant is a minor. But there is no doubt that being underage does not protect one from New Mexico’s DWI laws.

Which makes sense. Drunk driving laws exist for the protection of all citizens, and an underage, drunk driver is a danger to everyone on the road.

Even if the son had a learner’s permit or conditional license in this situation, a DWI could still the result, because a supervising driver must be sober.

While it was understandable that the mother did not want to drive while impaired, turning over the car to a drunk teenager was an astonishingly bad judgement call. A good reminder that your designated driver must be of age, licensed and sober to be worthy of the name.