teen drinking and driving

Consequences of Drinking and Driving

The reckless decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol can have severe repercussions in every state, including jail time, community service, expensive fines and driver’s license suspension. Teens who get arrested for underaged drinking and driving can face even more serious, long-term consequences, including effects on their educational and career opportunities. 

Teen Drinking and Driving Statistics

Though the percentage of teens who drink and drive has decreased in the past three decades, some teenage drivers still choose to endanger themselves or others by driving under the influence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, high schoolers drink and drive more than 2 million times per month, and they are three times more likely than experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash. 

Because alcohol clouds judgment, you may feel illogically confident about your ability to drive after drinking. You might also invite passengers to ride with you, further adding to the risk of driving under the influence. The distraction of having friends in the car, combined with the slowed reaction times associated with being intoxicated, can have fatal results.

Underaged DUI Penalties

In an attempt to discourage underaged drinking and driving, all states have implemented “zero-tolerance” laws for drivers under age 21. While a blood alcohol content of 0.08% is the federal limit to legally drive in the U.S., zero-tolerance DUI laws make it illegal for younger motorists to drive with even a tiny amount of alcohol in their system. 

The legal consequences of underaged drinking and driving will vary based on state laws and each case’s unique circumstances. However, if you get arrested on DUI charges as a teen, you can expect to have your license suspended. You may also face:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • Fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars
  • Community service
  • Court-ordered substance abuse education or treatment
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device

Educational and Career Consequences of Drinking and Driving

While an underaged DUI usually won’t disqualify you from university admission or make you ineligible to receive scholarships or financial aid, having a drinking and driving conviction could be a black mark on your record, even if you have maintained a high GPA and participated in extracurricular activities like sports and clubs.   

An underaged DUI could also hinder your ability to find part-time or full-time work. Consider how a driver’s license suspension might limit the jobs you can apply for by depriving you of the freedom to drive yourself to and from work. Additionally, some employers might not be willing to overlook an infraction that reflects so poorly on your judgment and ability to handle various adult responsibilities.

An Ideal Setting for Teen Recovery

Set on a sprawling 67-acre campus in the beautiful Tennessee countryside, ARCH Academy provides services to young men and their families who are struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. With a combination of 12-step programming, experiential therapy, family therapy and various evidence-based approaches, we create individualized treatment plans for each client, while our alternative school allows adolescent boys to continue focusing on their academic goals. If teen drinking and driving has affected your family and you need help, reach out to us today.