The reality is many teens cause car accidents due to their lack of experience driving and poor judgment. When young drivers also consume alcohol and drive, the risks increase dramatically that they'll cause collisions that result in victims suffering long-term injuries or death.
The teen driver could face harsh consequences under Florida’s DUI laws, and have to live with the knowledge that he seriously injured or killed others.
Why Teens Drink Alcohol
It's not simply a matter of "kids being kids." Even though underage drinking is illegal, teens are prone to engage in the behavior because of:
- Risk-taking. A child's brain isn't fully developed until early- to mid-20s. During formative years, teens are known for their risk-taking and impulsive behaviors, which can include experimenting with alcohol. Unfortunately, they also don't realize the dangers of drinking and driving, and their inexperience behind the wheel increases the peril.
- Personality. Some teens with disruptive behaviors such as hyperactivity or aggression; or who suffer with depression, anxiety, or social isolation; are more likely to consume alcohol—sometimes even before they become a teenager.
- Hereditary factors. There is some evidence that suggest genetic predisposition along with other influences places certain teenagers at a greater risk for alcohol problems.
- Beliefs. If a young person believes from an early age that drinking alcohol is a pleasurable experience, he or she is much more likely to do so, especially within peer groups. In addition, they are more susceptible to the positive effects of intoxication, such as feeling more at ease in social situations.
- Tolerance for alcohol. Surprisingly, teens have a higher tolerance than adults to the negative effects of alcohol, such as drowsiness or hangovers. Thus, they're more likely to engage in binge drinking, unaware of the compounded effect.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 teens drinks alcohol and then operates a vehicle. In addition, drivers 16–20 are 17 times more likely to be killed in an accident if they had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent than if they hadn't consumed alcohol.
Penalties for Underage DUI in Florida
Florida has a zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. It's illegal to have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher if a driver is under 21. A driver under 18 charged with DUI could face these penalties:
- If a driver has a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher, his driver’s license could be suspended for 6 months for a first offense and he could be required to complete a mandatory evaluation at an addition facility or an alcohol education program.
- If the driver’s BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, he will face the same penalties as an adult convicted of DUI. This can include a jail sentence of up to six months, 50 hours of community service, a fine not to exceed $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to one year.
How Parents Can Help Their Teens Not to Drink and Drive
Parents play a huge role in drunk driving prevention. Some steps they can take include:
- Being a good role model by not drinking and driving
- Talking to their teens about the dangers of drinking and driving
- Providing teens with a contract that always allows a safe ride home to ensure their safety and that of their friends
- Enforcing rules in exchange for driving privileges, such as always wearing a seat belt, never drinking and driving, never being a passenger with a driver who was drinking, and having limits on nighttime travel
If you were the victim of a drunk driving accident caused by a teenager, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your legal options, call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation.