Teen drivers can be dangerous behind the wheel, generally due to lack of training and experience. It takes time to develop sufficient self-control to handle a motor vehicle properly and in varied conditions. Teen alcohol use adds further hazards on the road. If a teen gets into a drunk-driving accident, it can have deadly consequences for motorists and serious consequences for parents.
Teens involved in drunk-driving accidents face large fines, possible jail time, and will likely have their driver’s license suspended or revoked. Parents and other guardians can also be subject to criminal prosecution in a growing number of states, including Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. A Pennsylvania man allowed underage drinking at a party in his home, and three teens died in a car accident after the party. The man was sent to prison for involuntary manslaughter even though he did not drive the car or buy the alcohol.
More than 150 cities or counties and 24 states now have civil or criminal social host ordinances. These laws state that adults who allow underage drinking on their property can be held liable for accidents involving teens who drink on the property. If an adult knowingly or unknowingly hosts an underage drinking party on property they own or lease, they could be liable in a personal injury lawsuit for medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Fatal crashes involving under-21 drunk drivers occur at more than twice the rate of fatal crashes among older drunk drivers. The National Institutes of Health reports that nearly half of all teens have had a drink by the time they are in eighth grade, and 20 percent report having been intoxicated. Nearly one-third of high school seniors report regular binge drinking – having five or more drinks in succession at least once every two weeks.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, whether or not alcohol was involved, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.