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Do teens drive under the influence of peers?

Teenage years are an important transition from childhood to adulthood. Teens are often eager to separate themselves from the influence of their parents and form their own opinions and ways of doing things.

As many Denver parents know, as teens separate from parental influence, they sometimes succumb to peer pressure to do things parents would prefer that their children not do. Parents who have had a teenage son or daughter arrested for underage DUI would likely agree.

A recent study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development suggests that teens who ride as a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver are themselves more likely to later drive while under the influence.

Researchers found that 10th graders (sophomores) who rode with a drunk driver were 21 times more likely to get behind the wheel by the 12th grade (senior year).

The study will be published next month in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers looked at data from 2,500 students from the 10th to 12th grades to find out how often the teens were passengers in vehicles driven by intoxicated drivers. Nearly a third of the 10th graders said they had been in that situation.

For those parents who have had a child arrested for underage DUI, there are a number of issues to consider.

First, the teen’s blood alcohol content might have been significantly lower than the BAC of an adult arrested for DUI. For people under 21, a BAC as low as .02 percent can mean a conviction; for people over 21, BAC must be .08 or above for conviction.

More important to many parents, however, is the possibility that an underage DUI conviction will haunt their son or daughter in adult life. That’s why so many parents want the assistance of an attorney experienced in underage DUI cases to help their family through the legal process.

Source: Science World Report, "Drinking and Driving: Research Shows Why Drunk Teens Get Behind the Wheel," March Thomas Carannante, March 17, 2014

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