The number of US teenagers who drink and drive, or commit DUI, has dropped by half in the last 20 years, according to a report from the CDC released on Wednesday.
The study covered reports from 1991 to 2011. The CDC found that, when asked if they had driven a car after drinking in the past 30 days, 10.3 percent of high schoolers in 2011 reported that they had. In 1991, 22.3 percent answered yes to that question. That was an overall drop in DUIs of 54%.
Binge Drinking & DUI
However, teen DUI is still a problem, cautions the CDC. Although the amount of drinking and driving incidents is declining, teenagers do still report drinking too much and then getting behind the wheel. Of those who did report that they drove after drinking in 2011, 84.6% engaged in “binge drinking,” which is defined as consuming 5 or more alcoholic beverages in just a couple of hours. This puts them at very high risk when they are behind the wheel.
Car crashes remain the number-one cause of death in teenagers between 16 and 19 years old. One in ten students reports drinking and driving in 2011. One in five teenagers involved in a fatal car crash in 2010 had alcohol in their system. High school students committed DUI 2.4 million times a month in 2011, with some driving under the influence more than once a month.
However, the good news from the CDC shows that some forms of intervention are working. Laws that restrict the legal drinking age to 21 years old have been very effective, and graduated licenses have proven very effective recently. Nearly all state have laws for graduated licenses – which restrict driving at night or with other teenage passengers – but laws are different for each state. Dr. Thomas Frieden says that such laws have reduced teenage driving deaths by 40% over 4 years, which is a dramatic statistical improvement.
If you have been charged with drinking and driving, or with a DUI, in South Carolina, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today by calling 803.252.4800.
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