Teen Drinking & Driving
For drivers aged 16-19 in the United States, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHSHLDI) reports the fatal crash rate is three times as high as it is for drivers 20 years old and older. In 2015 alone, 2,715 teenagers died in accidents.
The reasons are apparent. Teens most often lack the experience to deal with many tense and dangerous situations they experience on the road, including poor visibility, hazardous weather and careless motorists. But while many of these hazards are unavoidable, what is avoidable is drinking and driving. Being an inexperienced driver is dangerous enough; being an inexperienced driver and adding alcohol has the potential to be a deadly combination.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that between 2003 and 2012, 3,046 individuals died in Louisiana as a result of accidents involving alcohol. Overall, this suggests that alcohol is involved in about one in three traffic fatalities. And, according to surveys, 2.5 percent of drivers in Louisiana report driving after having too much to drink, well beyond the national average of 1.9 percent.
In Louisiana, as in all other states, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 for drivers over the age of 21; it is .02 for drivers under 21, and the penalties are the same. The minimum penalty in Louisiana for the first DUI offense is 32 hours of community service or two days in jail; the second offense is 240 hours of community service or 15 days in jail; and a third offense is a diversion program or one year in jail.
The CDC does, however, have several recommendations for how to prevent drunk driving, not just among teens, but among all drivers. One of the most effective is tougher laws, including zero-tolerance laws for all drivers under 21. This means it would be a crime for a teen to have any amount of alcohol in their system at all when operating a vehicle.
Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Louisiana, meaning the police can stop all motorists at heavily trafficked areas to check for the use of alcohol. This helps in that a random sample takes individuals off the road, as well as acting as a deterrent for those that would drive intoxicated.
School-based educational programs are also effective. Education shows teens the potential risks and results of drinking and driving, as well as instructing them on proper safety procedures. Aside from emphasizing that they should refrain from drinking altogether, it discourages teens from riding in vehicles with others who have been drinking.
Mass media campaigns have proven effective in reaching both teens and adults as authorities spread the message about the dangers of drinking and driving.
The CDC supports administrative license revocation or suspension laws. This option allows the state to remove the license of anyone caught illegally drinking and driving and to keep them from reinstating their license for a prescribed period of time. A 90-day period of license removal has proven effective. Like sobriety checkpoints, this has the benefitof not only removing people that are drinking and driving from the roadways, but also acting as a deterrent for those who might potentially drink and drive.
Chris J. Roy, Jr. APLC has been serving the people of Louisiana from its Alexandria office since 1989. We handle a variety of cases and look forward to addressing your legal needs. For answers to your questions or to set up a consultation, contact us online or call us at 318.487.9537.