For teens, the newfound independence and freedom that comes with acquiring a driver’s license may overshadow the responsibilities expected from drivers. Unfortunately, their inexperience can cause them to make poor decisions, such as experimenting with drugs and alcohol and driving under the influence (DUI). Given these factors, it is crucial that parents support teenagers as they face the open road.
Crash risk is higher among teen drivers
In Illinois, teenagers as young as 16 can obtain the privilege of owning a driver’s license. Although not all teenage drivers are irresponsible, statistics present an alarming picture. Compared to older adults, those aged 16-19 face a higher risk of motor vehicle crashes. Two major factors contributing to this elevated danger are a lack of driving experience and an inclination for reckless behavior.
Although underage drinking and DUI are illegal, a high number of teens involved in fatal crashes were shown to be drinking. Though alcohol and drugs impair most drivers, the risk of crashing is highest among teenagers, even when their blood alcohol content (BAC) level is lower than the legal limit.
Zero-tolerance and DUI penalties
Zero-tolerance laws are strict and act as a strong deterrent against underage drinking and driving. Although the legal BAC limit is .08%, drivers under 21 in Illinois can lose their driving privileges if caught driving with any amount of alcohol in their system.
At a minimum, offenders may expect license suspension, potential jail time, and fines for DUI or zero-tolerance charges. DUI and repeated zero-tolerance offenses often carry harsher penalties. To regain their license, they would have to complete several legal requirements.
Should the minor’s consumption of alcohol unfortunately lead to the injury or death of another person, their parents may also face criminal charges.
Driving offers convenience and independence, but it also comes with some accountability. Parents should be careful to remind teenagers that being responsible isn’t just about avoiding penalties but is vital to keeping the road safe for them and other drivers.