Underage Drinking and Driving

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There are so many problems facing the youth in our country, one major issue plaguing today’s teenagers is binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when males consume five or more drinks, and when females consume four or more drinks, in about two hours. (CDC, 2012) There are many factors and consequences that influence underage binge drinking, but this paper is going to focus specifically on underage binge drinking and driving. Even more specifically the consequences that include the charge of driving under the influence, traffic accidents, and death related to automobile crashes. Children are experimenting with drinking alcohol at an alarmingly young age. One out of ten children ages 12 and 13 use alcohol at least once a month (First Eagle). This is a very sad but true problem that is plaguing our country and it needs to be addressed before the statistic continue to grow. The statistics show children beginning to drink at a much earlier age than expected, this means they are more comfortable with the feeling that comes along with consuming alcohol, this feeling is commonly referred to as “buzzing” as a result, by the time they reach driving age they will not hesitate to get behind the wheel of an automobile to drive without a single thought of the many consequences that surround this disastrous decision. Another sad statistic is one is five teenagers binge drink, only one in one hundred parents believe that his or her child binge drinks (MADD, 2003). Parents are naïve when it comes to the exact details of what their children are doing on the weekends or on summer nights when they are out of school “hanging” out with their friends. Parents do not want to believe that their children participate in something as dangerous or ignorant as drinking and the consequences that will certainly haunt them for their entire lives, but they need to open their eyes to the issue and become realistic to exactly what their teen is doing so they can become proactive in approaching the issue and coming up with ways to prevent this dilemma before their child becomes one of the next sad statistics that we read about in the Sunday newspaper.

Being charged with driving under the influence while underage has many consequences. In the state of Pennsylvania, the offense commonly called “underage drinking” encompasses a much broader range of conduct than just drinking. The “underage drinking” statute prohibits a person under 21 years old from purchasing, trying to purchase, consuming, possessing, or knowingly transporting any beverage that contains alcohol. Beware of drinks that are labeled as “non-alcoholic,” because they probably aren’t actually “non-alcoholic.” Even “non-alcoholic” beers like O’Doul’s contain 0.50% alcohol-by-volume, and persons under 21 years can still get in trouble from such “non-alcoholic” drinks. (Fairlie, 2012) There are a many ways the police come across teens that are driving under the influence and breaking this law, but the most common way is when someone calls the police to report a loud or obnoxious party. Once police arrive, teens may attempt to escape being detected by the police, but in doing so run the risk of being chased, tackled, or injured during a running pursuit, in addition to facing extra charges. In Pennsylvania underage drinking is considered a “summary offense,” but it is still technically considered to be a “crime” because it is listed in Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code. The charges are resolved in a “summary trial” before a Magisterial District Judge just like that for any other summary crime (the same as Retail Theft, Criminal Mischief, or Disorderly Conduct, when they are graded as summaries). (Fairlie, 2012) If you are convicted of Underage Drinking, the consequences are as follows:...
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