The definition of drunk driving is different for teens than it is for adults. For anyone over the age of 21, having a drink or two may not lead to DUI charges if the adult's blood alcohol content is below the legal limit. But for a teenager, any amount of alcohol can lead to charges.
Students face even harsher penalties for DUI as well. Not only could the spend time in jail and be required to pay a high fine, DUI charges can profoundly impact a teen's future. Many states suspend a teenage driver's license until he or she reaches the age of 21 if that teen was charged with drunk driving. Now, one state is taking another look at this practice.
Anyone who does not work near home understands how vital it is to have a driver's license. For teens who recently graduated high school, the ability to drive can be critical to holding a job. That is part of the reason that state lawmakers in Utah have begun the process to pass a new law regarding underage DUI.
The old law suspended the underage driver's license until the person reached 21 years of age. The new law offers those drivers an opportunity to "earn it back." However, it also adds substantial requirements for teens to attend substance abuse treatment and education programs in order to have their drivers licenses reinstated before turning 21.
Anytime a state changes the law regarding underage drinking and driving, other states invariably consider doing something similar. While this current change is taking place in Utah, the implications could be felt in other states including Georgia. Teenage drivers here should understand the serious impact drunk driving charges can have.
Source: ABC 4, "Proposed law shortens driver license suspension for teen DUI," ABC 4 News, 8 Feb 2011