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Teen Drunk Driving “Youth In Court”, a Solution or Hand Holding?


Alex’s friend, Branden, while not in juvenile hall detention, goes to local Southern California schools as a part of the “Youth in Court” program and talks to students about his poor choices and how he killed his best friend. Is this enough to satisfy the family of the teen killed, or convince those others not to do the same thing?

Instead of going to prom and graduating, young teens like Alex and over 700 other kids annually lose their lives by either driving drunk or getting in a car with friends who had been drinking.

Branden and Alex, both popular kids who were looking forward to receiving lacrosse scholarships, were at a senior party. After 8 or 9 beers, they both got in Branden’s car, along with two other boys and raced through San Diego until he ran off the road, into a fence, trees, and bushes before rolling over. The three other boys in the car were not injured but Alex’s head had blunt force trauma. He later died.

Alcohol is the number one drug problem among youths, killing more young people than all other illicit drugs combined. More than 6,000 young people die each year due to underage drinking. In 2005, 2,035 15-20 year olds were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes-an average of six deaths per day. Of those deaths, 1,387 youth aged 15-20 died in crashes involving a 15-20-year-old alcohol-impaired driver.

Does this program offer more for the youth than a period of incarceration? Killing another is a very serious offense and placing them in jail or an institution sends a clear message to other teens at the school that this type of activity is not cool and will cause you to be jailed. What message do we send when the teen only has to attend a special program at school? Shouldn’t he have to pay financial reparations to the family for taking a life? Read other stories of Drunk Driving punishment and compensation that society demands be awarded.

On the other hand, placing a boy in jail for an extended period may cause him to turn to a life of larger crime, as often the stigma and treatment at our jail systems breeds multiple offenders. As a Mission Viejo auto accident attorneyy, I see the devastation drunk drivers cause to a family. Until the parents and teens start to realize the danger and fear the consequence, there will be very slow change.

Another excellent program that has been developed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (MADD), travels around the state to educate teens of the dangers of underage drinking. In April 2010, the program will be at several Orange County high schools, including El Toro High school in Lake Forest.

The MADD program is called “Every 15 minutes”. The statistics are stark. Each 15 minutes someone dies from an alcohol-related crash in the United States. With cooperation from the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept, Mission Hospital and the CHP, a mock accident scene is created on the campus. Bloodied kids, gravesites, and DUI arrests are all designed to educate kids that one bad decision can destroy the rest of your life, or someone that you love.
In a recent teen survey, over 80% of 12th graders stated that they had tried alcohol in the past year and 66% had drunk alcohol in the past month. Alcohol is the drug of choice for most teens and that’s why there’s’ a lot of underage drinking going on.

Additionally, some startling new data on how teens are getting their alcohol-their parents. Parent’s often feel that alcohol is not a drug and they would rather their kids s drink in a home with supervision, rather than in a parking lot somewhere. In fact, some parents even enjoy playing bartender.

Mission Viejo was the first city in Orange County that passed an ordinance prohibiting underage drinking in private residences. If caught, an adult could face a fine of $1,000 and up six months in jail. Of course you may be liable as well if the teen leaves your house intoxicated and drives recklessly.

If you have been victim to a drunk driver and do not think it is appropriate to slap that person on the hand, see this web site for articles and information to help you review your rights.
Don’t drink & drive!

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