Teenage drivers have always been among the most dangerous on the roads, but unfortunately many teens today are making bad choices that further increase the chances of an accident. As many as 28 percent of high school seniors responding to a recent survey admitted to driving while impaired or getting into a car with someone impaired. One out of every five high school seniors also admitted to binge drinking in the two weeks prior to the survey, with some engaging in “extreme” binge drinking.
With the number of young people driving impaired on the rise, it is important for parents and schools to take a tough stance on teen drug and alcohol use and for law enforcement to identify and prosecute intoxicated drivers to send a clear message that drunk driving leads to criminal consequences. Unfortunately, one high-profile case is sending the wrong message, leaving a Las Vegas prosecutor lamenting the fact that the case may encourage intoxicated drivers to flee from the accident scene in order to destroy evidence. As any lawyer in Las Vegas, NV knows, this is bad news not just for criminal prosecutions but also for plaintiffs who pursue personal injury claims against drunk drivers.
Teen Drunk Driving and Marijuana Use Increase Road Risk
It is not uncommon for teens to experiment with alcohol and drugs. But as NBC News reports, a survey conducted through the Monitor The Future project showed an increase in the number of teens driving after using marijuana. The Monitor the Future Project is a survey of 17,000 high school seniors nationwide. In 2008, 10 percent of surveyed teens said they’d driven after using marijuana while this number jumped to 12 percent in 2011.
The increase in marijuana among drivers means a higher percentage of young people are now driving high than are driving after consuming five or more alcoholic drinks. Yet, alcohol use still remains a problem as well, as the same study showed 1 in 10 young people admit to having 10 or more drinks in one sitting (this is classified as “extreme” binge drinking).
Drugged and Drunk Driving Both Unacceptable Risks
Based on the results of the Monitor the Future Project survey, a senior adviser for Students Against Destructive Driving did the math on the number of impaired teens likely to be on the road. With 28 percent admitting to driving or being in the car with an impaired motorist, there may be as many as three million impaired teens on the road.
Law enforcement needs to do everything possible to stop these teen drivers before they hurt someone. Unfortunately, a recent high-profile case has shown one problem police have in holding drunk drivers accountable: a hit and run can destroy evidence of drunk driving.
The case involved a 29-year-old man who fled the scene accused of killing a young Metro Police volunteer. The Las Vegas Sun report said police wanted to charge the driver with drunk driving because they believe he was impaired since his blood-alcohol test showed a BAC of .04 when he was tested four hours and 35 minutes after the accident. However, because he was not tested at the accident scene, there is insufficient proof that he was impaired when he crashed. Prosecutors expressed regret at the lack of evidence, cautioning that the case could encourage hit-and-run motorists.
Teens, however, should remember that they can still face criminal charges if they cause an accident while drunk or high — even if there’s no proof they were impaired. Parents and schools should stress the real-world consequences that can come from driving drunk or high, including the risk of lost life and criminal and civil penalties for the driver.
If you are hurt in a car accident and need a lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, contact Aaron & Paternoster, LTD today at (702) 384-4111 for a free case consultation.