According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes—that’s one person every 50 minutes.
If you are drinking, and you don’t have a designated driver (DD), then plan on taking public transportation, a taxi or walking (if your hotel is nearby).
If you drive under the influence, you can injure yourself, other passengers in the car, pedestrians and other drivers.
Consequences of Drinking and Driving
All states have laws that prohibit driving under the influence (drugs or alcohol). Specific consequences are different per state; however, common penalties include fines, license suspension, an installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) and/or jail time.
Jail time can range from a mandatory one day (for a first offense) to one week. For a second offense, it could be 48 hours and a third offense, 90 days.
A person could also pay a $500 fine, as well as court fees and license-reinstatement fees and attorney’s fees.
Many states require a person who has been convicted of a DUI to have an IID installed in their car. An IID is an alcohol detecting machine that has be to be attached to the car’s ignition. Once installed, the driver has to blow into the device, otherwise the car will not start.
Teenage Drinking and Driving
Teenage drinking and driving has serious consequences. Teen drivers are responsible for almost 20% of all fatal alcohol-related crashes. Some states have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21, while some states have a .02% limit.
Regardless of your state’s specific laws, your teen should know that he or she absolutely can’t drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. Establish expectations and make sure the consequences are fully explained.
Let your teen know that if he or she has been drinking and needs a ride, you will be less upset if you get a call than you than if your teen gets home in a riskier way. Establish strict rules — you are a parent, not a friend, in these situations.
Make sure your teen knows the consequences:
- Being cited for possession of an alcohol beverage, whether it has been consumed or not (yes, this can even happen on private property).
- Minors may face a hefty fine, possible jail time or both for being charged with purchasing, possessing, selling or consuming alcohol underage.
- Expulsion from school or restriction from participating in extra-curricular activities if caught drinking (even on private property).
Getting charged with any type of alcohol-related offense will make it difficult for a teen to keep or get a part-time job and can severely impact their ability to get into first-choice colleges. As an aside, even a conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana can disqualify a teen from seeking some forms of education assistance.
And while it may be hard to get teens to understand the deep implications of non-legal consequences, they are just as important. Teens who drink are at higher risk for:
- Sexual activity: especially unwanted sexual advances and impaired decision making when it comes to sexual partners. Teens who drink are also far more likely to have unprotected sex.
- Alcohol-related death: accidents related to alcohol are a leading cause of death in teenagers.
- Academic struggles: teens who drink often see their grades suffer and have behavioral problems in school.
- Violence and crime: teens who drink are more likely to be violent and are more likely to be a victim of a violent crime like rape or assault.
If you would like to read tips on talking points when discussing drinking and driving with your teen, how to address peer pressure, common myths surrounding drinking and more consequences, click here.