The fact that it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol doesn’t prevent young people under that age — many of them still in their teens — from drinking and then taking the wheel. While just 10 percent of drivers are under 21, these drivers account for 17 percent of fatal crashes involving alcohol.
Unfortunately, the statistics here in Maryland reflect this troubling national picture. One in three drivers who are killed in our state in alcohol-related crashes are not yet 24 years old.
A particularly troubling finding indicates that the average blood alcohol content (BAC) for teen drivers involved in fatal drunk driving crashes is a whopping .40. That reflects the culture of binge drinking that too many high school and college kids get caught up in.
Maryland has implemented a number of laws to try to prevent underage drivers from getting behind the wheel when they’re under the influence. A first offense can land a young person in jail for two months and result in a suspended driver’s license for six months. They can also face a maximum $1,000 fine.
Those convicted of drinking and driving while underage a second time in five years can face double that fine and license suspension time as well as a year behind bars. It’s important to note that underage drivers are unconsidered to be DUI if they have a BAC of .02 or more — a quarter of the legal BAC for drivers 21 and over.
Young people who are arrested for underage drinking and driving often face additional charges if they bought alcohol with a fake ID and/or if they have alcohol in their vehicle. If they had friends or siblings in the car, they can even face child endangerment charges.
If your child has been charged with DUI, you’ll likely pay a price as well. In addition to fines, if your child is on your auto insurance policy, expect a hefty rate increase.
A DUI and other charges associated with underage drinking and driving can seriously impact a teen’s future. That’s why it’s essential to seek experienced legal guidance to help you and your child through this difficult time.
Source: Elite Driving School, “Teen Driver Statistics On Car Accidents and Drunk Driving,” accessed Oct. 10, 2017