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Binge drinking, underage drivers and the potential for crashes

The zero-tolerance policy is in force everywhere in the U.S. When behind the wheel, the young driver in your family cannot have any alcohol in his or her system.

Unfortunately, underage drivers are more likely than adults to binge drink, and many drive with a high BAC, which can easily lead to a devastating roadway crash.

About binge drinking

Binge drinking is a popular activity among high school and college students. It usually occurs on a specific day during the week, such as a Saturday when like-minded friends can get together. For men, the practice consists of consuming five or more alcoholic beverages within the space of two hours while for women, the minimum is four drinks. The definition according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is that it is “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above.”

Dangers of driving

Binge drinking does not necessarily deter an underage driver from taking to the road. Young people frequently feel they are invincible and able to drive. However, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that alcohol plays a role in more than one-third of fatal roadway crashes among drivers 16 to 20 years of age.

What to do

If you have an underage driver in your family, be sure that he or she understands the risks of drinking and driving. Even after a couple of drinks, a driver will experience reduced reaction time, impaired visual functions and lack of spatial judgment. Binge drinking can have dire consequences. Be sure that the young driver also knows that an arrest for underage DUI will lead to driver’s license suspension, heavy fines and possible long-range academic and employment consequences.