Young, White Males More Likely to Drive Under the Influence (DUI)

The Journal of Adolescent Health has published a recent article examining how young adults drink and drive (DUI). Different race and ethnic groups pose different types of unique risk factors, the study found. The study sought to identify the contextual risks and protective factors of teenagers who participate in driving. Data was collected from 10,271 adolescents from 1995 to 2001. 67% were white, 12% were Hispanic, 16% were black, 3.6% were Asian, and 49% were Male.

The longitudinal study found that whites were the most likely to drive under the influence of alcohol. They were followed by Hispanics, Asians, and blacks in all the models tested. There was an increased risk for future DUI when adolescents perceived that there was easy access to alcohol in their home.

The research team found that male teens from higher-income families and teens who owned cars of all ethnicityies were at a greater risk for drinking and driving than females, less affluent youths, and those who did not own cars. Another group of teens who reported other high risk behavior were also at a greater risk for DUI. These teens reported high-risk behavior such as binge drinking, marijuana smoking, and driving other peoples’ cars without permission.

ACLU Fights Oklahoma Judge Over Court-Ordered Church Attendance in DUI Manslaughter Case

District Judge Mike Norman is in trouble with the ACLU for requiring ten years of church attendance as part of teenager Tyler Alred’s deferred sentence for DUI manslaughter. (See original posting on this story here.) The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has filed a complaint with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, accusing Norman of violating the Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct by infringing on religious liberty. The executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, Ryan Kiesel, criticized Judge Norman on his actions.

“We believe in a strong and independent judiciary. For us to come to this conclusion really speaks to the level of disregard that Judge Norman has showed towards the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of the state of Oklahoma,” Kiesel said.

Tyler Alred was allowed to decide between church and prison. Alred’s defense attorney Donn Baker said, “My client goes to church every Sunday. That isn’t going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him.”

In November, Norman admitted that his ruling may have been unconstitutional, but he was going to wait and see if he would get away with it. “I received a couple of bad calls – one from Oregon and one from Missouri – telling me it was in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They may well be right, but that’s what I did and we made a record,” Norman said. Then he added, “If someone wants to appeal my decision, they’re entitled to do that.”

On Tuesday, the ACLU took him up on his offer.

MADD and State Farm Team Up to Prevent Teenage Drinking

Red Ribbon Week started as an awareness campaign to reduce the demand for illegal drugs, and eventually expanded to include alcohol, tobacco, and violence. This week, MADD is teaming up with State Farm for Red Ribbon Week to discuss the negative consequences of teenage drinking. The team are handing out a booklet called The 411 on Teen Drinking.

The 411 on Teen Drinking is backed up with research on the prevalence of teenage drinking and the negative effects that drinking can have, especially on teens. Since the brain is still developing in the teenage years, teens who participate in excessive drinking can suffer long-term cognitive side effects. Teenagers who binge drink will score more poorly on verbal and nonverbal memory, attention focusing, and exercising spatial skills when compared to their non-drinking counterparts.

In addition to the negative health consequences of drinking, the booklet also discusses serious legal ramifications, such as what can happen if a teenager is caught drinking and driving. In addition to losing the freedom provided by a driver’s permit, teenagers can seriously affect their future opportunities by receiving a DUI early in life. Certain colleges will not admit to applicants with a DUI on their record, and jail and probation is a likely consequence as well.

According to research by Dr. van der Vorst of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, parents who try to teach their teens drinking in moderation at home does not correlate with teens practicing moderation when they are out of their parents’ sight. The research shows that the more teenagers are allowed to drink at home, the more they will also drink outside of the home.

The 411 on Teen Drinking will be distributed to schools throughout the country during Red Ribbon Week. MADD National President Jan Withers said, “When it comes to underage drinking, teens may feel like ‘everyone is doing it,’ but the truth is that only one out of five teens binge drinks — which means four and of five don’t.”

CDC Reports Teen Drinking and Driving Down by Half

teen drinkingNew data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the number of teens who drink and drive has dropped by 54% since 1991. The study examines self-reports of drinking behavior reported to Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. The study also looked at data from blood alcohol levels from teens involved in fatal crashes.The report shows that only 10.3% of high school aged students 16 or older reported drinking and driving in the previous 30 days in 2010. This is a significant drop compared to the 22.3% who reported drinking and driving in the previous 30 days in 1991.The CDC credits the drop in drunk driving among teens to the stricter zero-tolerance laws and to the raising of the legal drinking age to 21. CDC Director Thomas Frieden believes that drinking and driving is not as socially acceptable now. He said, “There is a broader recognition that drinking and driving is not O.K.,” he said.However, car crashes remain the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. Dr. Ruth Shults is an epidemiologist at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control who worked with the study. She said that 1 in 5 teens who were involved in a fatal crash in 2010 had alcohol in their system.