Parties are the ultimate high school gathering. You can hang with your friends and go crazy with little to no adult supervision. But sometimes this reduced supervision can lead to the presence of alcohol. Even though it is illegal, it might not seem like a big deal to drink, but you need to be careful. There aren’t many benefits to drinking and there are a lot of serious consequences that you will have to deal with.
Death and Injury Rates
Each year there are about 4,300 deaths associated with underage drinking. On average, approximately 2,000 teens die every year because of drunk driving. Drunk driving is not cool. Getting caught could mean some serious legal repercussions, such as jail time, heavy fines, and community service. Having a record can prevent you from getting into a good college or even finding a job.
Additionally, thousands of teens are injured each year while under the influence of alcohol and many of them report that they were assaulted by a peer who had been drinking. Alcohol poisoning can also occur when you binge drink. The effects of binge drinking range from a nasty hangover to death, so it is not something to mess around with.
Drinking lowers your inhibitions and impairs your judgment. When you are drinking, you may make stupid decisions or put yourself in situations that are not safe. You are more likely to hurt yourself or to get hurt while you are drinking. You are also more likely to be sexually assaulted. Thousands of teens report each year that they were sexually assaulted while under the influence of alcohol. Even if you are consenting, you may not use proper protection, which leaves you vulnerable to contracting an STD.
Impact on Your Brain
Did you know that underage drinking can result in changes to your brain? Your brain won’t finish developing until your mid- to late-twenties, meaning that anything that you do to your brain can have a permanent effect on your brain. Underage drinking has been shown to impact that development and the functions of the brain. The younger you are when you start drinking, the more likely you are to get addicted or to impair the development of your brain. Not only can this cause a problem for you now, but it can also make it easier to get addicted to other substances.
So before you take that first sip, consider what you are getting yourself into. Drinking can wait until you are older, and you can still have fun with your friends without getting drunk.
You probably know that drunk driving is illegal and has very serious consequences, including fines, license suspension and even jail time. What many teens may not know is that drunk driving laws and penalties are different for those under the age of 21. These are commonly called “Not a Drop” laws, and they are important to understand.
How Not a Drop is Different
Regular drunk driving laws would allow the average adult to consume some alcohol before being considered legally intoxicated. This level is usually set at .08 percent blood alcohol, typically measured by breathalyzer and less frequently by an actual blood test. So long as an adult has not drunk enough to raise their blood alcohol beyond that point, then they are considered safe to drive.
Under Not a Drop laws, any level of intoxication is considered illegal. This means that a person under 21 cannot consume any amount of alcohol or have any amount of detectable blood alcohol.
Legal Penalty for Violation
A teen found in violation of Not a Drop may face several consequences. If they are a first-time offender, then their license will be suspended for 30 days and the will have to pay $20 to get it reinstated. If they are caught a second time, then their license will be suspended for 180 days and they will have to pay another $20 reinstatement fee. Further violations will probably result in the revocation of the license for a prolonged period of time and a much more complicated procedure for getting it back. The exact consequences for violation may vary by state or jurisdiction.
Beyond the law, the consequences for driving intoxicated are real and serious. Accidents involving drunk drivers kill about 28 people every day according to attorney Dave Abels. A young person is likely to be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and may be impaired at much lower levels of blood alcohol concentration compared to an adult.
It is also important to note that teen drivers are subject to regular DUI laws in addition to the Not a Drop rules. If a teen driver is found with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 percent, they will face serious consequences similar to and perhaps greater than those faced by an adult. This could include arrest, jail time and loss of a driver’s license for years and the requirement to attend drug and alcohol counseling before the license is restored.
Drunk driving is a serious offense for anyone, but it is especially serious for teens. In areas that have zero-tolerance Not a Drop Laws, it is important that underage drivers never consume any alcohol. The consequences to your future, health and ability to drive are never worth it.