12 Year Old Drives Drunk: Time For Voluntary Ignition Interlocks

Teen drinkingDid you know some people voluntarily install an ignition interlock in their vehicle? Whether they’ve already received a drunk driving conviction and they’re concerned they’ll make the choice to drive drunk again, or their teen will be driving soon and they want to stop them from driving drunk, there are a lot of reasons why someone would want an ignition interlock in their car. Parents in Austin, Texas might want an ignition interlock even more after they read about what’s going on with underage drinking and driving in their city.

A 12-year-old Austin, Texas boy recently made the news after he was stopped for driving drunk. He lead police on a chase that ended with him crashing into another car and then driving straight into a pole. No one has released information on why he was driving drunk, who owned the car he was driving, and where he obtained the alcohol he was drinking.

There aren’t many cases where you’ll find a child drunk behind the wheel of a car, but drunk driving is a reoccurring theme with teenagers, especially in Austin. The “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch crashed and killed four people and was sentenced to probation and banned from alcohol, but after drinking again and fleeing the country, he’s behind bars for two years.

The Texas A&M student who recently drove drunk and snapped a topless selfie to share on Snapchat? She’s also from Austin, and although the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has a zero tolerance policy for teen drinking and driving, the crashes and arrests keep adding up.

According to 2015 data,  more than three hundred drunk driving crashes in Travis County involved someone under twenty one. Nine people died because of those crashes, and there were one hundred more crashes than in 2014. These collisions happened despite the fact that underage drunk driving results in fines of up to $500, a sixty day license revocation, and community service.

Although first time Texas offenders over the age of twenty one will receive an ignition interlock penalty, there’s no mention of that for teen drivers. Maybe it’s time, given all of the recent drunk driving cases involving teens and, incredibly, a child in Austin, to require all teens stopped for drunk driving to use an ignition interlock. That single safety measure could drastically decrease the amount of teen drunk drivers on the roads in Austin.

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