Most of those killed in alcohol-related crashes involving teen drivers are the young drivers themselves and their passengers.1
The problem of driving under the influence:
- Drivers are less likely to use seat belts when they have been drinking.2
- In 2019, 16.7% of students nationwide had ridden one or more times in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.3
- A person’s driving ability is impaired under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs – meaning they have trouble judging distances, reacting to sudden changes, and overall are more likely to make dangerous decisions while driving putting their lives and your own in danger.
- 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 blood.4
Know the Consequences:
- 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 fines.4
- 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 more.4
- Increased efforts by local law enforcement make the chances of getting caught even greater.
- 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.5
What to do about driving under the influence of alcohol:
- If the driver of your vehicle has been drinking or has used drugs:
- Refuse to ride with them
- Call someone you trust to help
- Walk, bike, or find a different way if your trip is short
- If you see a driver that should not drive:
- Let a responsible adult know
- Tell him or her to call a cab or find a ride
- Ask him or her to wait until they are able to drive
- Food, coffee, or exercise will not reduce the amount of alcohol in someone’s system. Only time decreases the effects of alcohol.
- Don’t believe someone can “fool” a police officer. They are trained to look for tale-tell signs of someone who is under the influence.
- Everyone reacts to alcohol differently. If you know a friend has been drinking, assume they are unable to drive.
The Effects of Drugged Driving
- Medications that are considered downers (e.g. Xanax, Valium) can cause confusion, blurry vision, and vertigo. These are not good side effects to get behind the wheel with.
- Adderall is used for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Medicines like Adderall (amphetamines) stimulate the brain by increasing the level of neurotransmitters in the brain which can cause anxiety, insomnia, hyperactivity, and other issues. Ultimately, while it may boost someone’s ego, Adderall’s effects on sleeping patterns can severely impact their driving ability, putting them at a higher risk for falling asleep behind the wheel.
- The effects of Ecstasy or Molly (MDMA) can include confusion, severe anxiety, and decreased motor skills. A person needs to have full function of their motor skills (e.g. hand-eye coordination) in order to safely drive a vehicle.
- OxyContin (oxycodone) is an opioid pain medication. Painkillers are one of the most commonly abused drugs by teens, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. Opioids are highly addictive and can cause nausea, confusion, and breathing problems.
- Not only can driving under the influence of marijuana earn a DUI, but the impacts on judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time are perfect for causing a crash.
Taking any drug can impair someone’s driving skills, putting you and others more at risk for a car crash. NEVER ride with an impaired driver.
- NHTSA FARS, 2020
- NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2007 https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811001
- 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
- Texas DPS, 2020. Alcohol and Minors – Texas has ZERO TOLERANCE. https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/getForm.ashx?id=DL-20.pdf
- TxDOT, https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/sober-safe/intoxication.html#:~:text=What%20are%20the%20penalties%20for%20a%20DWI%3F&text=Up%20to%20a%20%242%2C000%20fine,license%20up%20to%20a%20year
Updated July 2022