August 30, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- In 2011, there were 407 fatalities related to alcohol in the state of Pennsylvania, according to The Century Council. Out of these, 41 were minors under the age of 21. Also, 407 of the DUI arrests in Pennsylvania involved teenagers under 18. Clearly, underage drinking and driving is a problem that results in many needless and preventable arrests, injuries and deaths. Our state has recently changed legislation to protect people from drunk drivers, which adds stricter penalties
to underage drinking and driving.
DUI laws in Pennsylvania
The Daily Pennsylvanian reports that a bill was signed last October which raises the maximum fine for the first underage drinking conviction to $500, and the second offense to $1,000. Before the new law, the fines had been $300 and $500. In addition to preventing injuries and deaths, the high penalty is especially meant to discourage those under 21 from receiving a second offense. While it may seem harsh, this can protect minors from the legal and criminal consequences of a DUI.
Pennsylvania operates under a zero tolerance law, meaning underage drivers must not have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Anyone under the age of 21 driving with a BAC of .02 or more will be considered to be driving under the influence, says the Pennsylvania DMV. And for minors driving with a blood alcohol content of .10 to .159, there will be severe penalties.
The varied consequences of underage drinking and driving
Mainline Media News reported on the story of an 18-year-old who overturned his vehicle. Although officers say he didn't have any detectable alcohol in his system and charged him with erratic driving instead, his passenger was cited for underage drinking after officers noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath. This shows that even minors who are caught with alcohol in their system, yet aren't driving, are subject to penalties.
The Centers for Disease Control say the amount of high school teens who admit to drinking and driving have decreased by more than half since 1991, yet teenagers still get behind the wheel while intoxicated about 2.4 million times each month. The CDC says these solutions have been proven to reduce teen drinking and driving:
Enforcing the minimum legal drinking age laws and not selling alcohol to minors
Enforcing zero tolerance laws for minors regarding drinking and driving
Parents staying involved in their children's lives and decisions
In fact, parental involvement and discussions go a long way toward helping teens make responsible and safe choices.
Contacting an attorney to protect your teen's rights
Teenagers have their whole lives ahead of them, and even one DUI conviction can affect them for years. Even worse, if someone is injured or killed as a result of underage drinking and driving, the results can be devastating and life-changing. It's important to contact an attorney with experience in underage drinking and driving cases, in order to protect the rights of a minor who has been arrested for a DUI.