Teen Arrested For DUI After Dad The Designated Driver Bails

teen designated driverWhat do you do when you’re out for the night, you need to get home, and the person who is supposed to the designated driver is drunker than you are? The right answer is ‘don’t drive,’ but there are a lot of people who would have no problem getting behind the wheel under those circumstances.

Take a 14 year old boy in Pennsylvania for example. Despite the fact that he’s too young to have a driver’s license and too young to be legally drinking alcohol, the teen was driving drunk with his father in the passenger seat. It’s bad enough that the teen’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .106 percent, but his father, the man supposed to driving, topped him with a BAC of 0.26.

The father has been charged with child endangerment and corruption of a minor, and with his son facing a pending drunk driving charge, he may want to familiarize himself with the new drunk driving laws in Pennsylvania.

The Governor of the state has recently signed a new law making it mandatory that all first time drunk driving offenders install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they drive. Because Pennsylvania has three tiers for drunk driving, the new law will follow those tiers. That means that someone convicted of the lowest tier with a BAC of .08 to .099 will not need an ignition interlock. Only those convicted of second and third tiers will be required to install one.

The law won’t take effect until August of 2017, but it can’t come a moment too soon for Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania DUI Association shared data showing that 53,000 potential drunk drivers attempted to start their ignition interlock equipped vehicles in 2015, and thanks to the device, they couldn’t drive while drunk. With ignition interlocks required for all offenders, many more drunk drivers will be stopped.

There could be another good byproduct of the new ignition interlock law: maybe with a first offender ignition interlock law on the books someone supposed to be the designated driver will take his or her responsibilities seriously. If they do, maybe a 14 year old, someone without a drivers license and not legally able to drink alcohol, won’t be tempted to drive drunk.

Here’s How Maryland High Schools Deal With Underage Drinking

underage drinking marylandUnderage drinking is huge problem in high schools, and it’s why you see some high school administrators put their foot down and request breathalyzer tests at proms or dances. It’s also a big problem in teen homes, because parents can sometimes think if they let their kids drink at home with friends, they’re safer than if they were to go out.

One principal in Maryland doesn’t believe underage drinking should happen at school or at home, and after a local school lost two students to a drunk driving crash in 2015, she decided she needed to penalize students who drink at school functions. Unfortunately the school superintendent isn’t on board with this administrator’s penalty.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland sent out a stern warning to students before prom: if anyone was caught drinking alcohol or doing drugs, they wouldn’t be able to participate in graduation activities. Apparently some students didn’t listen, because six students, including seniors, were drunk at the event.

Despite the fact that some parents were in support of the discipline, the head of the Montgomery County School district decided to overrule the principal. He reversed the graduation ban and stated in a letter to parents that he decided graduating seniors would be allowed to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.

Although the Bethesda-Chevy Chase penalty didn’t stick, other nearby schools have prevented students from enjoying graduation.  The principal at nearby Walt Whitman high school is barring one student from the stage for graduation because that student drank at prom, and he also sent out a letter to parents before Halloween because he heard parents were hosting underage drinking parties. He wanted them to understand that letting your teen drink at home won’t stop them from drinking and driving. He also reminded them that if you do provide alcohol to teens and you’re caught, you could receive a $2,500 fine.

Maryland high schools may not be the only schools in the nation who are having underage drinking problems, but they are definitely stepping up and addressing it head. Because of that, they’re setting a great example for other high schools to follow.


Rachel’s reminder A Good Reminder For Teen Drunk Drivers

teen drunk driversProm, graduation, and the kick off to summer: it’s a busy time of the year for parents and teens, but it’s even busier for police. Because of prom and summer vacation, the number of teen drunk drivers on the roads multiplies.

That’s why it’s a good time for a reminder, and one mom in Minnesota would like that reminder to be in honor of her daughter Rachel. Angela Nguyen lost her daughter Rachel on her 19th birthday. She had just been given a new vehicle and she promised her mom she’d never drink and drive. Unfortunately she broke that promise, and she crashed early that morning less than two miles from her home.

The loss of her daughter spurred Angela to start a campaign called, “Rachel’s reminder! Never drink and drive” on Facebook. On the page she shares the story of losing Rachel and the stories of other adult and teen drunk drivers.

It’s tragic but not uncommon to lose a teen this way. Traffic crashes are the number one cause of teen death, and drunk driving leads the way as the number one reason teens crash. Summer is an especially risky time because when teens gather, they may decide to drink, and if they decide to drink, they could decide to drive.

Rachel’s reminder is a simple set of guidelines for every teen that may consider drinking and driving.

  • If you drink, don’t drive under any circumstances
  • If you need a ride, call your parents
  • If you don’t want to call your parents, stay where you are until you can get a ride home
  • Even if you have a short distance to drive, don’t attempt to drive your car
  • Never get into a vehicle with a friend who has been drinking

There’s no guarantee that these guidelines will stop teen drunk drivers, but if you have the conversation you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

The Final Chapter In The Ethan Couch Story

arrested for drunk driving ethan couchThere’s been a lot of news on the “affluenza” teen over the past few years. Ethan Couch was news after he was arrested for drunk driving when he crashed into and killed several people stopped on the side of the road.

He continued to be news during his trial when his psychologist coined the term “affluenza” to describe him, and he became even more infamous after when, much to the outrage of the public, he received 10 years probation instead of juvenile detention or jail time for his crime of intoxication manslaughter.

But that media coverage couldn’t match what happened after Couch violated his probation by playing beer pong with friends and someone captured it on a cellphone and put it online. Instead of visiting his probation officer to explain, Couch hit the road with his mother in tow and spent some time in Mexico.

When they were apprehended, both Couch and his mother were extradited back to the United States. Because he was turning 19, he was facing adult court for the first time since he was arrested for drunk driving, and that meant jail time.

In a surprise twist, the judge ordered Couch to serve 180 days for each death he caused due to drunk driving. It’s called a “stacked sentence” and it adds up to two years in jail.

The jail time came after the prosecutors requested the judge not factor in that Couch violated his probation or fled to Mexico, and the sentence was a surprise for everyone interested in the case. Before the hearing, prosecutors had been saying not to expect more than few months in jail total, and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) felt the situation dire enough to set up a petition to ensure that Couch faced adult court and possible jail time.

Now that Couch is in adult jail, justice is finally served in this case. It’s a good example for anyone who thinks you can treat an arrest for drunk driving lightly. As Ethan Couch has since learned, it will catch up to you eventually.

A Parent’s Nightmare: Teen Drunk Driving In Colorado Kills Two

teen drunk driving in ColoradoIt can be scary for a parent to let their teen drive the family car. There’s a lot of danger out on the roads, and you worry about speeding, aggressive driving, and potential crashes. Those are valid concerns, but if one recent case of drunk driving in Colorado is any indication, any parent of a teen should be on red alert for the greatest danger of all: drinking and driving.

It happened in Centennial, Colorado, and because it was a case of drunk driving at 3 pm in the afternoon, it should give pause to parents who feel safer when their teens are driving during the day. Taden Jones, only 18 years old, was speeding down a busy road at 3:40 pm in the afternoon when he crashed into another vehicle.

One woman in the other car was ejected and died at the scene, while the other woman in the vehicle died at the hospital of her injuries. There was also another passenger in the vehicle Jones hit, and he suffered minor injuries.

When he was arrested he tried to give the police officers a fake ID, and he admitted to drinking three beer before he drove. He was formally charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and drunk driving in Colorado.

Colorado has a zero tolerance law in place for drivers under the age of 21, and according to the penalties in place for underage drivers, Jones would have been charged with drunk driving and had his driver’s license revoked even if he had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 on the breathalyzer. Because of the vehicular homicide charges, the future he’s facing includes penalties much more severe than a simple driver’s license suspension.

It’s every parent’s nightmare. Not only are two lives over due to drunk driving, one teenager has to live for the rest of his life with what he’s done. It doesn’t matter what time of day your teen is driving, if they get behind the wheel while drunk, anything can happen. If you haven’t yet talked to your teen about drunk driving, now’s the time to do it.

‘Cool’ Parents Don’t Help Their Kids Try Underage Drinking

underage drinking wisconsinThere’s a long held belief among some parents that underage drinking is OK as long as it’s done at home. That’s why parents will buy alcohol and host underage drinking parties for their children and friends: at least if they’re drinking at home, they’re safe and sound, right?

The Wisconsin government doesn’t think so, and one state representative has reintroduced a bill that would prohibit an adult from allowing underage drinking on their property. There is currently a law where parents can be fined for providing alcohol to a minor, but the onus is on law enforcement to prove the parent purchased the alcohol in the first place.

If this bill is passed, any parent who allows underage drinkers to consume alcohol on their property will be fined. Fines will be steep, and parents could pay fees as high as $500 per underage person on the property. Even two or three underage drinkers on the property can mean a serious dent in mom and dad’s wallet.

This is a bill that, if passed, won’t just stop parents from subverting local drinking laws by allowing kids to drink on their property. It will reduce the possibility that those kids will leave, get behind the wheel of their car, and drink and drive. Traffic crashes are the number one cause of teen death in the United States, and according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of drivers age 16 to 20 were who were involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.

Wisconsin has some of the most lax drinking and driving laws in the entire nation, and a first time offense ends up in a ticket, not a criminal charge. Along with this bill to stop parents from providing their kids with alcohol, there are several bills on the table this spring to toughen up drinking and driving laws. If they all pass, within a year Wisconsin should be a much safer place for everyone who lives there.


Will Affluenza Teen Influence Underage Drinking And Driving In Texas?

drinking-and-driving-in-texasUnless you have no access to Internet or television, you’ve probably heard of the Affluenza teen by now. Ethan Couch was drinking and driving in Texas at age 16 when he crossed the centerline of a highway and slammed straight into a group of people near a vehicle parked on the side of the road. He had a blood alcohol concentration of .24, and he killed four people in the collision and two of his passengers suffered serious injury.

Affluenza, otherwise known as an inability to take responsibility for your actions because you were brought up in a life of privilege, was the defense used by Couch’s attorney, and it resulted in him receiving 10 years probation and a stint in residential rehab instead of serious jail time.

People were outraged by his defense – “affluenza” does not appear in any psychiatric textbook – and even more so when he skipped out on a parole hearing after he was seeing playing beer pong in a video that surfaced on Twitter. That’s when he and his mother skipped the border into Mexico and hid out until they were discovered. She’s been brought back to face charges of assisting a felon, while he’s still in Mexico fighting deportation.

According to lawyers reviewing the case, the most Couch will end up serving is 120 days in prison. Because he was convicted in a juvenile court, they can’t bump him up to adult court simply because he’s almost 19.

This problem with this case isn’t just that a rich teen got off easy after killing several people: this is a case that can have serious consequences for other teen drivers who think drinking and driving in Texas or anywhere else is OK.

Teens can have a lot of role models, from celebrities to rock stars, and they crave notoriety in all shapes and forms. That means that some teens can look at someone like Couch, see him getting off with a slap on the wrist, and make the decision to drink and drive. After all, when you look at his case, the consequences don’t seem to be that big a deal, and the fame he’s received, however negative, will last a lifetime.

Will The Affluenza Teen Pay The Price For Drinking And Driving?

affluenza-teen-drinking-and-drivingWhen one well off teen decided to drive under the influence, killing four people in the process, a new term hit the urban dictionary that most people had never heard before. Affluenza refers to someone who doesn’t know better because their parents never taught them boundaries, consequences, or social responsibility.

At the time, the teen that teen that coined the phrase was only 16 years old. After a night of stealing beer from a Walmart with friends, he got behind the wheel of his Dad’s truck and drove down a rural road. Crossing the lane into oncoming traffic, he crashed straight into another car stopped on the side. Couch was three times the legal limit, and he killed 4 people who had only pulled over to change a tire. He also seriously injured his own passengers including one of his friends who is now paralyzed.

His punishment for killing 4 people and injuring others? Because his lawyers successfully argued that he was suffering from affluenza, he only received 10 years probation instead of 20 years in jail. That might change soon now that it appears as though he’s violated the terms of his probation.

According to the conditions laid out for Couch, he can’t drink, do drugs, or drive a vehicle. That hasn’t seemed to stop him from playing a game of beer pong with his friends, and if it is Couch in a video uploaded to Twitter, he’s in big trouble for a clear violation of his parole.

The prosecutor in this case is taking it seriously too: she’s confirmed that if they find out he was in the video and he has breached his probation, he could have his case bumped to adult court.

The affluenza defense might have worked the first time, but if this teen is caught drinking again after killing 4 people due to DUI, it won’t work again. It might finally be time for the affluenza teen to pay the price for his decision to drink and drive.

Will Your Child Drink And Drive?

will-your-child-drive-impairedThere’s a lot to worry about when you have kids, and although some of your fears will lessen as your children grow older, others take their place. That’s what happens when kids are old enough to know about drugs and alcohol, and a new study has shown that you may have even more reason to be concerned about their potential to drink and drive.

Researchers from the RAND Corporation recently published an article in the journal Pediatrics after surveying more than 1,000 middle-schoolers. The students, in the sixth grade and 12 years old, were asked about their views on drugs and their use of alcohol or marijuana.

The students were again surveyed when they were 14 and one last time when they were 16 and in high school. The 16-year-olds were asked how often they were drinking, using drugs, or driving under the influence by themselves or with others.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that its not middle school drug use you need to be concerned about. Instead, parents need to worry about how their children view drugs at that age. 63% of sixth graders who had positive views about drugs, thinking they were fun or relaxing, were more likely to state that they had either been a drunk driver or got in a car with someone who was driving under the influence (DUI).

Compared to the students who had less positive views about drugs, the findings are a reality check for anyone raising a child. The researchers suggest now that marijuana is legalized in some states and positivity about the drug is increasing, parents need to be vigilant as early as middle school and talk to their kids about the dangers of drinking, drugs, and driving under the influence.

If you need help starting the conversation with your child, take a look at this post on how to talk to your teen about drinking and driving.

Underwater Car Great Reminder For Teens To Avoid Drinking And Driving

Photo from Kununurra Police

Photo from Kununurra Police

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words, and although it might have happened over the pond in Australia, the image of a car sitting deep in the clear water of a river isn’t one you could soon forget.

How did it get there? According to local police, a teen was drinking and driving when he crashed into an irrigation channel and the car ended up at the bottom of the river. Although he lived to tell the tale and see his court date, other teens haven’t been so lucky this summer.

A Millbury, Massachusetts’s teenager is facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges after he crashed into a tree. He was air lifted to the hospital with undetermined injuries and police have said he’ll be charged with DUI, negligent driving, speeding, and failing to wear seat belt.

He’s not the only teen in hot water. A New Jersey teen was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) twice in a 10-hour period. The 19 year old crashed into a pole and was charged with DWI of suspected narcotics. Incredibly, 10 hours later he was in another car crash while sitting in traffic caused by his first crash. That’s not all either—his mom had allowed him to get behind the wheel and drive, so she was charged with allowing a person to operate a vehicle impaired.

All of these cases from the past week are reminders of how easy it is to lose control and crash when you’re drinking and driving. Young people who drink alcohol are inexperienced with drinking and inexperienced behind the wheel, and when you combine the two you can get fatal results.

If you need help talking to your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving, check out the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) page on underage drinking.