Seventy percent of 11th graders in the state say they’ve consumed alcohol and 51 percent say they’ve been drunk or sick from alcohol in their lifetime, according to the California Healthy Kids Program.
“Young people and their parents should know that the state’s driving under the influence laws is even tougher on those under 21,” said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Auto Club. “An alcohol-related driving offense will cost teens their license and can easily result in $17,000 in fines, mandatory education expenses, attorney fees and additional insurance costs.”
The Auto Club suggests teen drivers, their friends and their parents consider the following before high school-ers head out to prom and graduation:
- California has a “zero tolerance” law for underage drivers making it illegal for those under age 21 to have consumed any alcohol before they drive -- punishment for violating this law is a one-year license suspension and up to $17,000 in costs.
- The blood alcohol content of .08 percent applies to adults. Teens will be criminally prosecuted for misdemeanor drinking and driving at the .05 percent level.
- About 2,500 underage drivers are involved in alcohol-related death and injury crashes annually so the refrain of “it won’t happen to me” doesn’t ring true.
- Teens should not get into a car with someone who has been drinking. One-third of all persons killed in teen driving crashes are passengers in the teen driver’s car.
- Parents should know beforehand whom their teens are going to prom and have cell phone numbers for others in the group and their parents.
- Parents should also know how their kids are getting to and from prom.
- Parents should make sure that California’s graduated driver licensing law is followed. The law makes it illegal for teens under age 18 during their first year of driving to carry teen passengers after 11 p.m. If the teen driver has a full license, all passengers should be buckled into in the vehicle’s safety belts.
- Parents should open a dialogue with their teens to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving and offer to be available for a safe ride home.