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What should parents know about teenage drinking and driving?

Teenage drivers, who often get their license at age 16, are very excited about being able to drive a car for social and work reasons. Many of them are very responsible, driving carefully and obeying all rules. However, as is the case with older drivers, some teenage drivers drink and drive.

Does alcohol affect teenage drivers more?

Teenage drivers, specifically those between age 16 and age 20, are the most inexperienced of drivers on the roads. Because of that, the effects of alcohol are combined with their inexperience when they drink and drive.

How is that a dangerous combination?

While no one should drink and drive, older drivers with more experience may be able to use their experience to compensate for things like alcohol-impaired reflexes. Teenage drivers, on the other hand, have no experience-based tools with which to compensate for impairments induced by alcohol.

Does teenage drinking and driving correlate with fatalities?

Yes. When a teenage male driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is between .05 and .10 percent, they are 18 times more likely to die in a single vehicle car accident than sober teenage male drivers.

What about for female teenage drivers?

Female teenage drivers who drink and drive suffer fatalities in car accidents 54 times more often than sober female teenage drivers do.

What are the legal consequences for teenagers who drink and drive?

To start with, they can lose their license for a period of time set by the laws of their state. In addition, they may face civil and criminal penalties if their drinking and driving led to injuries or death to another person, or damage to property.

In those cases, the teenage driver's family will want to hire a criminal defense attorney who can defend the teenage driver. Of course, families are encouraged to minimize the probability of teenage drinking and driving in the first place by having a zero tolerance policy within their families for teenage drinking.

Source: State of Michigan, "Teen Drivers and Alcohol," accessed June 02, 2017

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