Nine out of ten teenage drivers in the United States pledged to drive safely in 2011, cutting the number of high school students who are drinking and driving in half over the last two decades, New Jersey DUI attorneys are happy to report. Studies cite changes in state legislation, parental involvement, graduated driver licensing, and zero-tolerance among the deterrents to underage drunk driving. Surveys in high schools found that 16-year-old drivers were less likely to drive drunk, fearing license suspensions and other serious repercussions.
All 50 states have zero-tolerance laws in place, which make it illegal to drive drunk if you are under the age of 21. The graduated driver licensing (GDL) program also helps curb the instances of reckless teen driving. Drivers of a certain age must follow specific rules such as how many passengers can ride in the car, and how late they can stay on the road. Although all states have a version of the GDL program in place, restrictions vary from state to state.
In New Jersey, the GDL program restricts drivers with a GDL license from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and from having more than one passenger in the car. Talking or texting on a cell phone is prohibited, although teens can plug iPods into the sound system and use GPS devices. Young drivers also cannot enter into a plea bargain for any ticketed offenses that result in points on their licenses, New Jersey DUI attorneys explain.
New Jersey also imposes tough penalties for underage drinkers, especially if they choose to drive after a few drinks. Underage drinkers are charged with a disorderly persons offense, which carries a fine of $500 or more, and underage drunk drivers lose their license for six months, starting either at the time of the offense, or immediately after the driver receives his or her license. Teens who drive drunk can also be charged with a DWI, even if their blood alcohol level is less than the legal limit, and ordered to complete up to a month of community service. Any driver under 21 who is driving after imbibing any alcohol at all is subjected to license suspension for up to 90 days, in addition to any other penalty for drunk driving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that parental involvement made a lasting difference in teen behavior. Positively discussing peer pressure and getting actively involved in a teenager’s life can prevent more teens from drinking and driving. The New Jersey DUI attorneys at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman urge parents to discuss the risks and dangers involved in drinking and driving with their children.