In 1984, Congress established the minimum drinking (alcohol) age to 21 nationwide; achieving so by withholding government funding from any state, for any highway project if the state refused to put the age restriction into law. As a result, the number of related accidents, injuries and fatalities for those 21 and younger declined rapidly.
When did it become ‘OK’ for teens and college students to drink alcohol on a regular basis?
After a recent case, I began to give this subject a great deal of thought. While my kids are young and aren’t at risk at this point in time – friends, clients and society as a whole seem to be facing this growing struggle. A 2008 study concluded that 58% of 10th graders had tried alcohol, whereas almost 75% of 12th graders had. Given the increase in potential health and developmental issues, the propensity for future alcohol addiction issues, and the immediate risk of injury or death – Keeping our teens and students on the right path is more important than ever.
The Ramifications of Underage Drinking
Our bodies change rapidly in our youth. Developmental, emotional and physical growth happens at record speed, and consuming alcohol during these years can pose serious consequences. More-so, we seem to have an epidemic of our youth involved in life threatening, or life ending accidents where alcohol has been a key factor. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that drivers between the ages of 16-20 are 17x more likely to die in an accident when their blood alcohol level is at or above the legal limit of .08% (Ohio’s 21+ legal limit). It is no secret that teens and young college students feel invincible, but I find this single statistic grievous frightening, from the perspective of both an accident attorney and father.
In order to keep our children safe, we need to be aware and involved parents. As a parent, I understand how easy it can be to say ‘No, not my Johnny!’. Unfortunately, this head-in-the-sand mentality isn’t going to fix the widespread issue of underage drinking. From a legal perspective, if your alcohol-impaired child injures or kills someone in an accident, their lives and yours will forever be adversely affected. From a parental standpoint, the thought of losing a child, or a life being lost at the hands of your child, is too much to bare. Preventing these tragedies and saving the lives of our youth, will require the entire village! If your child or a loved one was injured as a result of an impaired underage driver, call me immediately.