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How Underage Drinking Impacts on DUIs

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By StraightDUI Staff on 10/23/2007

Today, alcohol use by persons under age 21 has become a major public health problem. In fact, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among young people in the US. And the consequences of underage drinking are monumental. According to studies, youth who drink alcohol are more likely to have school problems such as failing grades and higher absences. They are also inclined towards social problems, which include fighting, and lack or participation in young people’s activities. Legal problems occur as well such as being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) as well as alcohol related car crashes.

Studies Related to Underage Drinking

Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning. Alcohol has been found to be a leading factor in all of these deaths. And according to data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an annual survey of U.S. youth, three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. According to other research conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, adolescents who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21. Other statistics show that the average age when youth first try alcohol is 11 years for boys and 13 years for girls. And the average age at which Americans begin drinking regularly is 15.9 years of age.

Binge Drinking Consequences

Binge drinking, often begins at around age 13 and tends to increase during adolescence, peaking in young adulthood between the ages of 18-22 and then gradually decreasing. Individuals who increase their binge drinking from age 18 to 24 and those who consistently binge drink at least once a week during this period may have problems attaining the goals typical of the transition from adolescence to young. Those youngsters that were warned about alcohol by their parents as well as those children who reported being closer to their parents were less likely to start drinking. MTF data (Monitoring the Future) shows that 11 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 29 percent of 12th graders had engaged in heavy episodic or binge drinking within the past two weeks. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above.

The Differences of Adult and Underage DUI Charges

Most states rulings have a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher as constituting a DUI for an adult. For someone under 21, the legal limit is usually a BAC of 0.02% or higher. That is four times lower than for an adult. Punishment for underage DUI is generally different than for an adult because it is a combination of two crimes, which includes underage drinking and DUI. Punishments for underage DUI include taking the car, taking away the driver’s license for a period of anywhere from 90 days to three years, attending alcohol related driving educational classes, completing public service, paying fees associated with any punishments, fines ranging anywhere from $100.00 to $2,000, being placed on probation from three months to five years, jail time from 48 hours to one year or a combination of the above.

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