The legal drinking age in all states and the District of Columbia has been twenty-one since the 1980's. While this increase has helped reduce the number of teenagers who drink, there are still those that consume alcohol while underage and, unfortunately, some of these individuals choose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. According to the CDC, “Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011.” While drinking and driving is never a good idea for anyone, being intoxicated while at the wheel poses a greater risk to teen drivers. The CDC states that “[t]een drivers are 3 times more likely than experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash.” Adding alcohol to the mix “greatly increases this risk for teens.” In fact, “[y]oung drivers (16-20) are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking.” As these statistics show, tragic accidents can occur when teenagers drive while under the influence.
The case of Georgia teen Trevor Johnson illustrates this point. Johnson is just 18-years old and a high school senior but is now facing serious criminal charges. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in late May 2017, at “[a]bout 5:30 p.m., Johnson was traveling east on Heard Road near Heard Lane in a Dodge Ram pickup when he left the roadway and sideswiped a tree.” Johnson then over-corrected which sent him into the opposing lane of traffic where he hit a 49-year old man driving an Acura. The crash caused both cars to become “engulfed in flames,” however, both drivers were pulled to safety by some good Samaritans who had stopped to help. Both Johnson and the driver of the Acura survived the crash. Fortunately, Johnson was not seriously injured and the Acura driver did not suffer life-threatening injuries, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states his injuries were still “serious." Johnson was "taken to jail after he was determined to be under the influence of alcohol."
He is now charged with numerous counts including: DUI, serious injury by vehicle, failure to maintain a lane, driving too fast for conditions, and underage consumption of alcohol.
If a driver who is under the age of 21, like Johnson, is caught drinking and driving, they may be unaware that the legal limit for someone their age is lower than the legal drinking limit in Georgia for those who are legally able to drink. For drivers under 21, the legal limit is 0.02. According to Business Insider, a 160-lb man can have a BAC of 0.02 after just one beer. Thus, a person under the age of 21 could be sober enough to drive but still be arrested for DUI and face significant penalties if convicted.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence while in DeKalb County or anywhere, please do not hesitate to contact DeKalb County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today.