Drivers between 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% compared to when they have not been drinking1.
The problem of driving under the influence of alcohol:
- TDS teens agree – driving under the influence of marijuana and alcohol is UNACCEPTABLE2.
- Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do. This is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations (BACs)1.
- In 2019, 16.7 percent of high school students 16 and older reported riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol in the past 30 days3.
- Drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking4.
- In 2019, 17% of 16-20-year older drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC greater than .081.
- Most of those killed in alcohol-related crashes involving teen drivers are the young drivers themselves and their passengers4.
Zero Tolerance Law and other consequences of driving under the influence:
- Zero tolerance law makes it illegal per se (in and of itself) for persons under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood5.
- Violators of underage drinking laws often face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver’s license, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines5.
- A DUI conviction follows a teen, so there is the added embarrassment, humiliation, and potential loss and consequence related to academic eligibility, college acceptance, scholarship awards, and more5.
- Increased efforts by local law enforcement make the chances of getting caught even greater4.
- The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a study that found that a first-time offender could expect to pay between $5,000 and $24,000 for DWI arrest and conviction.
- In 2016, drugs were present in 42% of the fatally injured drivers with a known test result, more frequently than alcohol was present6.
- According to FARS Data, Cannabinoid use in fatally injured drives doubled between 2007 and 20166.
- Marijuana is by far the most common drug used, found in roadside surveys, and found in fatally injured drivers.
- Drug-impaired driving is more complex than alcohol-impaired driving for many reasons6.
- In 2020, alcohol and other drug prevalence among seriously and fatally injured drivers at the five trauma center study sites found7:
- More than 29% in the most recent period (July 19 to September 30) had measurable alcohol in their systems
- over 26% testing positive for the presence of cannabinoids and,
- 13% positive for opioids.
The Effects of Drugged Driving8
- Alprazolam(Xanax XR, Niravam), is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family, the same family that includes diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane), and others. These medications are downers and can cause confusion, blurry vision, and vertigo. Not good effects to get behind the wheel.
- Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) are used for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Amphetamines stimulate the brain by increasing the level of neurotransmitters, dopamine, and norepinephrine, in the brain. While it may boost your ego, Adderall can increase your heart rate and puts drivers at risk for having a seizure or stroke.
- The effects of MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as ecstasy (E) can be confusion, severe anxiety, and decreased motor skills. Taking any drug can impair your driving skills, putting you and others more at risk for a car crash.
- OxyContin(oxycodone) is an opioid pain medication. Painkillers are one of the most commonly abused drugs by teens, after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. Opioids are highly addictive and can cause nausea, confusion, and breathing problems behind the wheel.
- Not only will driving under the influence of marijuana earn you a DUI, but it will significantly impair judgement, motor coordination, and reaction time – perfect conditions for causing a crash.
What to do about impaired driving:
- Driving after even one drink is just not worth it. Ride with a sober friend, ask someone else to drive, or call a parent or older sibling.
- Driving after one puff or consuming edible marijuana (THC) is not worth risking your life and the life of others on the road. Find a sober ride by taking a cab, rideshare, or public transportation.
- Food, coffee or exercise will not reduce the effects of alcohol or drugs in your system. Only time decreases the effects of alcohol and drugs.
- Don’t believe you can “fool” a police officer. They are trained to look for tell-tale signs of a driver who is under the influence.
- If a friend has been drinking or taking drugs and is about to drive, SPEAK UP. Offer to drive, take the keys, or call a parent.
- Never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking or doing drugs. Everyone reacts differently. Always assume that the person is too impaired to drive. Follow that Better Safe Than Sorry mantra.
- IIHS, 2019. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/teenagers#alcohol-involvement
- Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 2020. Based on 2019-2020 Teen Driver Knowledge Survey Results, https://www.t-driver.com/teens-in-the-driver-seat-2019-2020-progress-survey-results/
- Center for Disease Control, 2019. Youth risk behavior surveillance. Transportation Risk Behaviors Among High School Students. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/su/pdfs/su6901a9-H.pdf
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Drunk Driving. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
- Texas DPS, 2020. Alcohol and Minors – Texas has ZERO TOLERANCE. https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/getForm.ashx?id=DL-20.pdf
- GHSA Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/13839-drugged_facts_flyer_101918_v8_002.pdf
- NHTSA, 2021. Update to Special Reports on traffic Safety During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Third Quarter Data. https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/documents/traffic_safety_during_covid19_01062021_0.pdf
- Voas, R.B.; Torres, P.; Romano, E.; and Lacey, J.H. 2012. Alcohol-related risk of driver fatalities: an update using 2007 data. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 73(3):341-350.
Updated July 2021