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Binge drinking, underage drivers and parents in the dark

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people between the ages of 12 and 20 are responsible for consuming roughly 10 percent of all the alcohol consumed in our country. The members of this age group are also partial to binge drinking, and their parents may know nothing about it—until law enforcement stops their teens on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

What binge drinking means

Binge drinking is a term that describes a drinking pattern that is popular among high school and college students. While their parents might drink in moderation, perhaps having a drink or two before dinner, young people may only drink on a certain night of the week with friends, but more heavily as compared to their parents. Studies of such behavior show that binge drinking refers to having at least five consecutive drinks for men and four for women in the space of about two hours’ time.

Problems on the road

Unwisely, binge drinkers may believe that they are invincible—many young people do—and think nothing of getting behind the wheel after consuming large quantities of alcohol. According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway crashes represent the leading cause of death for teenagers, and a quarter of those involve underage drivers who had been drinking.

Texas laws for underage drinking and driving

In Texas, as in many other states, it is illegal for a motorist who is under the age of 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in his or her system. In addition to hundreds of dollars in fines, a driver arrested for DWI faces license suspension and up to 40 hours of community service plus mandatory attendance at alcohol awareness classes.

Becoming more aware

A criminal defense attorney will tell you that an arrest for DWI is a very serious matter, especially for drivers who are under the age of 21. However, it is often a wake-up call for parents who may have known nothing about the binge-drinking exploits of their children. Legal representation for the offense is one thing, but teaching young people about the risks they face as underage drinkers is quite another.

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