Underage Drunk Driving Statistics & DWI Prevention Tips


Staggering Under 21 Drunk Driving Statistics & Prevention Tips

DWI accident

A major milestone for young people across the United States, even as young as 15 years old is the excitement of obtaining their driver’s license. This accomplishment comes with monumental responsibilities with safety being the number one priority. Parents would like to feel confident in the choices their children make, but the fact is there are those youths under 21 years of age who obtain alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car and find themselves in need of a DWI Defense Attorney.

In 2003, drivers under age 21 represent 10% of all drivers in the U.S. and unfortunately represent 17% of fatal alcohol related automobile accidents. Each year approximately 2,000 underage youths die while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Underage DWI Statistics – the Raw Truth

  • A teen is at higher risk to be in a car accident during the first year of driving due to lack of experience.
  • Car accidents are the number one killer of teens in the United States.
  • Adults are four times more likely not to sustain serious injury or die in a car accident than teens.
  • The increased chances of males being injured or dying in a car accident is twice as high as females.
  • Alcohol as being a factor in one-third of all teenage automobile fatalities.
  • Eight teens die every day in DWI/DUI related automobile crashes.
  • Teens under the influence of alcohol, at any blood alcohol content level are at a higher risk of being in a car accident than older drivers. Just because an adult drank one beer and then was alright to drive a couple of hours later does not mean a teenager can. Teens are still growing and developing so the effects are stronger and last longer.
  • Teen alcohol related automobile accidents spikes during the night time hours of 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
  • Teen alcohol related automobile accidents are higher on weekends than on weekdays.
  • It is about twice as likely males will drive under the influence of alcohol than females.
  • Binge Drinking – According to blood alcohol content (BAC) records of victims involved in intoxicated automobile accidents, underage drinkers are noted to binge drink. On average the BAC level is five times the legal limit.
  • Seatbelt Unused – Underage drinkers are reckless going unrestrained by their seatbelt. At the point of impact, 74% of under 21 years old drunk drivers in fatal car accidents were not wearing a seatbelt.

It’s the Law – Underage Drinking While Intoxicated Has Penalties

All 50 U.S. states consider anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08%; the laws are much stricter for under 21 years of age. Laws vary by state, but it is illegal in every state for anyone under the age of 21 to consume any alcohol and drive a motorized vehicle.

In most states, anyone under the age of 21caught operating a motor vehicle with a .02% BAC or above can be cited for a drinking while intoxicated. Some states are less forgiving, such as North Carolina and Arizona having a zero-tolerance policy for those underage and driving while intoxicated. In these states, any amount of BAC over 0% will result in a DWI/DUI. Some states have “hybrid rules” in place, meaning the ramifications are dependent on BAC levels. For example, a .01% would cause a lower penalty(ies) where as a .05% BAC would trigger a full-blown DWI/DUI resulting in stronger penalties. Find your state’s BAC rules in the resource located below.

Applying For a New Job or To College

Consequences of drinking and driving affect a youth’s future and can prevent one from getting a job or into a college or University. More often than not when filling out an employment application and college or University applications, the person must disclose any DWI/DUI convictions. If financial aid is being applied for, there are some types that will be denied with a conviction on record. Failing to disclose conviction information in the application process can result in job loss, loss of rights and/or financial aid, and can possibly result in perjury charges down the road.

Stop Yourself – Stop Your Friend – Do Not Be a Statistic

  1. Stop Yourself – Think before you drink alcohol, and especially before you drink and get behind the wheel of a car. First and for-most, a motorized vehicle is a weapon before it is your right to passage.
  2. Stop Your Friend – Simply put, do not let your friend drink alcohol and drive a motorize vehicle of any kind. You could be saving a life.
  3. Do Not Be a Statistic – Youthful drivers are producing some staggering DWI/DUI statistics across the U.S. and statistics are stoppable.

Driving Drunk Prevention Tips

  • It is against every state’s law to consume alcoholic beverages under the age of 21(*Resources). If you are under 21 years of age, do not drink alcohol period.
  • Make a plan and get everyone to agree on a sober DD (designated driver). Suggest alternate transportation by taking a taxi, public transportation or getting dropped off and picked up at the location.
  • If a situation occurs where a person is impaired and should not be behind the wheel of a car driving, remain calm and as non-confrontational as possible. It is important to remember the person you are dealing with is intoxicated, so speak a bit slower. It takes extra care and time to rationalize with someone who is not sober. Explain you care about them and want to keep them and others safe.
  • If possible, suggest the inebriated person sleeps over to sober up before driving.
  • It is more difficult to say “no” to multiple people than one; enlist the help of a friend for support.
  • Collect car keys at the start of the party and keep them with a designated “key-keeper”.
  • Take the keys away from an inebriated person if possible.
  • If all attempts fail, call the police. Being arrested is much better than a friend getting hurt or worse, the death of that friend or an innocent victim.

The ideal circumstance and the only scenario is that which does not include an underage drinker. Further, the combination of anyone under the influence of alcohol and a motorized vehicle should always be set at a zero tolerance. One hundred percent abstinence is the only answer.


MADD – Tips: How to Prevent Someone from Driving Drunk

Have questions about underage DWI/DUI laws in your state? Find answers here: