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Why do teens ride with drivers who are under the influence?

Even teens who don't drink and drive may risk their lives by getting into a car with someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. A recently released university study reported that of 2,000 teens surveyed within two years after graduating from high school, approximately a third reported that they had ridden with an impaired driver.

Based on the study, the impaired drivers behind the wheel are more likely to be other young people than older adults. That's particularly dangerous because teens who are driving drunk have a 17 times higher chance of dying in a crash than adults.

So what causes teens to get in a car with an impaired driver? There are several potential factors. One of them involves marijuana. According to the study, teens who reported using marijuana were more likely to say they had ridden with a driver under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs than those who said they didn't use marijuana. Binge drinking may also be a factor in a person's decision to ride with an impaired driver.

Peer pressure, or at least peer influence, likely plays a role as well. One sociologist noted, "Whereas driving drunk has become more and more stigmatized since the 1980s, the social prescriptions against riding with (other types of) impaired driver are not as strong."

According to the study's lead author, "Our children are learning behaviors from their surroundings. Their learning experience and the behaviors they are exposed to are leading to their attitudes toward their own behavior…when deciding to engage in a behavior or not."

Besides talking to kids about the risks associated with driving under the influence, parents need to discuss the dangers of being in a car with an impaired driver. In some cases, a driver will decide he or she isn't able to drive, and a passenger who's perhaps only slightly less intoxicated may take over. Sometimes, in the chaos of a crash, someone who wasn't driving will be pegged as the person who was behind the wheel.

All sorts of things can result in a teen being arrested for DUI before he or she is even legally old enough to drink. If your child is facing these charges, it's important to seek the guidance of an experienced Georgia DUI attorney.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. teens often ride with impaired drivers," Mary Gillis, March 26, 2018