Teenage Drinking and Driving

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : MARCH  23, 
| 2 Sources

Teenage drinking and driving is a serious concern. In a moment we’ll talk about some tips to prevent underage drinking and driving, but first let’s take an in-depth look at the problem.

Sixty percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol related. Now, studies show that teens are less likely to drive while under the influence than adults are, but when they do, their risk of being in an accident is greater.

Experts believe that is because teens are inexperienced at driving and because they are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors while driving, such as speeding. They also tend to over-estimate their driving ability.

Teens may also be more affected by alcohol than adults. Even small amounts of alcohol greatly increase their risk of car accidents. For example, a teenage boy with a blood alcohol concentration of just 0.05 (well below the amount considered “legally drunk” in most states) is 18 times more likely to suffer a single vehicle crash than his non-drinking counterparts. And a teenage girl is 54 times more likely to crash!

Preventing Teenage Drinking and Driving

Follow these tips to help prevent underage drinking and driving:

  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of drinking. Teens whose parents talk to them about the dangers of alcohol are far less likely to drink than teens whose parents don’t discuss the issue with them.
  • Also talk to your teen specifically about the risks of teenage drinking and driving. Talk to them about the risks of riding with a driver who has been drinking, even if they have only been drinking a little.
  • Make sure you know where your teen is going, and that parties or get-togethers will be supervised by responsible adults.
  • Make a pact with your teen. They can call you for a ride, any time, no questions asked. You might also consider giving your teen money for cab fare when he or she is going out with friends, just in case.
  • You can encourage your teen to get involved with programs like SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving), in which they can learn more about the risks of drunk driving and work with other teens to prevent teenage drinking and driving.
  • If you drink, do so responsibly. Never drink and drive.

Know the Laws

There are a number of laws designed to reduce underage drinking and driving. Laws vary from state to state, but include such things as:

  • Graduated drivers licenses, such as limiting night driving for teens.
  • Suspending teens’ driver’s licenses if they are caught using a fake ID to purchase alcohol.
  • Suspending teens’ driver’s licenses for underage drinking (even when they have not been driving).
  • Penalties for adults who host underage parties where alcohol is served - these penalties may include fines or jail time.

There is some question about the effectiveness of these laws. Still, you and your teen should be aware of the laws in your state. Laws regarding the suspension of a driver’s license can serve as a powerful deterrent for teen drivers.

It is also illegal in all states for people under the age of 21 to drive with any alcohol in their system. They will likely be arrested for underage drinking and driving.

For More Information

For more information about teenage drinking and driving, you can contact Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) at 1-877-SADD-INC (877-723-3463). See if there is a SADD chapter at your teen’s school. If not, find out about starting one. That is an excellent way to combat underage drinking and driving.

More than teenage drinking and driving on our effects of teenage drinking page

Alcoholism home page

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More