Study: Fewer young people in California are drinking and driving

A study has found that teenage drinking and driving is declining, though it is still a very real threat to people in California who participate in the behavior.

When comparing young drivers in California who drink and drive against those who do not, the statistics regarding the risks involved can be frightening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those between the ages of 16 and 20 who surpass the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 have 17 times the risk of dying in an accident when compared to their sober counterparts.

While that number is grim, a recent study provides some hope that the number of teenagers who engage in drunk driving is declining. Researchers accredit the decrease to a number of factors.

The study

Findings from the study were published with the CDC in 2015. Researchers analyzed data from 2002 to 2014 concerning the driving behaviors of young people in two groups: those ages 16 to 20 and those who were 21 to 25. The data came from the U.S. government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in which more than 380,000 people answered questions about alcohol and drug use over the past year.

For the younger of the age groups, the study's authors discovered that drinking and driving had dropped 59 percent. There was also a significant decline for 21- to 25-year-olds, with a 38 percent decrease.

Why the decline?

According to one of the study's leaders, there are three possible explanations for why fewer people are getting behind the wheel while intoxicated:

  • Law enforcement officers are taking a more aggressive stance when it comes to DUI.
  • Young people are drinking less overall.
  • Schools across the country have engaged in prevention efforts.

Experts also note that parents who talk to their children about drinking and driving are helping to instill safe driving practices.

Looking ahead

While these findings are encouraging, it is still imperative for teenagers to understand the very real dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As the California Administrative Office of the Courts points out, the state has a zero tolerance policy toward underage drinkers, which means that anyone younger than 21 with a BAC that registers above 0.01 can lose his or her license.

Even worse, a drunk driver can cause a serious accident that leads to property loss, a serious injury or even the death of another person. In addition to the criminal penalties that could be involved, the victim or his or her family could hold the driver financially responsible for the damages. California permits these personal injury lawsuits as long as they are filed within two years of the incident.

Anyone who has questions regarding this issue should consult with a personal injury attorney in California.