A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is providing some optimistic news about young drivers and drunk driving. The CDC study is showing a marked decline in drunk driving instances for young adults, ages 16-25.
The self-reporting study concluded that from 2002 to 2014, the number of individuals aged 16-20 who drove under the influence of alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and marijuana in their system, has dropped by 59%. The same survey showed that the numbers for the drivers aged 21-25 has dropped by 38%.
One of the leading causes of death for individuals aged 16-20 in the United States is drunk driving accidents. The latest government statistics indicate that drivers under the age of 21 account for only 10% of the licensed drivers in the country; however, they are responsible for 17% of the drunk driving fatalities in the U.S.
The study concluded that a combination of factors have been instrumental in the number of young adults drinking and driving. One of those factors includes public safety interventions at the state level that bring increased penalties for young adults convicted of a DUI. Most states, including California, have a much lower standard for blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for under 21 drivers. California has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drivers, with a possible DUI charge for 0.01% or greater BAC.
The CDC has also pointed to targeted media campaigns aimed at teenagers using the internet in addition to various school programs. These types of campaigns, along with increased media reports of police “sobriety checkpoints” during holiday periods, may have a powerful deterrent effect on teen drunk driving.
Finally, the CDC concluded that graduated driver licensing programs in most states have contributed to the decline in driving under the influence of alcohol. Some examples of graduated programs are limitations on the number of passengers and nighttime driving restrictions for under drivers who are under 21.
One other factor that the CDC study did not mention was the recent surge in the ride-sharing services such as “Uber” “Sidecar” and “Lyft”. Many of the younger adults are now eschewing car ownership and using various ride services as their primary mode of transportation.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) conducted their own 2015 study and have determined that these “app-based” ride-sharing services have reduced the number of drunk driving incidents over the past two years. Their study cited California, where the number of DUI charges dropped by 6.5% for the 30 and under age group.
Whatever the source of the decline, it has certainly been welcome news for parents that teenage drivers are getting the message about drunk driving. If you or someone you know is arrested for an underage DUI, their arrest does not have to end in a criminal conviction. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people charged with driving under the influence in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of DUI and criminal defense experience, she understands the possible penalties involved. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands the local criminal laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve.