Last month, we presented information regarding the importance of educating our Florida teenagers on driving safely, and distraction-free, to prevent serious injuries and death when traveling Florida highways. However, we did not discuss an alarming trend that is posing a health and safety risk to teenage girls – binge drinking.
According to a story aired on ABC News Nightline on March 26, one of every four teenage girls engage in binge drinking. Reporter Juju Chang found that teenage girls face enormous pressure to fit in, and more are turning to alcohol to lower their inhibitions to feel less intimidated by their peers and teenage boys.
We reported in January on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about adult binge drinkers. In the same study, the CDC reported that 90 percent of the alcohol that teens consume is consumed while binge drinking. That basically means that teenagers are consuming approximately four to five alcoholic drinks per occasion, twice or thrice a month. Nightline highlighted some teen girls that were consuming anywhere from 10 to 15 drinks in one evening.
Any amount of drinking by teenagers can be dangerous, but binge drinking comes with additional risks. Beyond the immediate effects of alcohol that can cause sickness, and more seriously, alcohol poisoning, health experts report large amounts of alcohol makes girls more promiscuous and more vulnerable. In fact, 80 percent of teenage pregnancies occur to girls that are drunk, according to Nightline.
Bob Hirshon of the American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that teenage drinking also has an “intellectual price.” Hirshon reports that the girls who binge drink as teens can permanently damage their brains, thus impacting their decision-making skills, memory, and spatial awareness. In the study he cited, researchers said that heavy drinking can result in people engaging in high-risk behaviors, and that teens were more likely than adults to take these reckless risks.
One of those risks is driving while drunk. In one extreme example, an 18-year-old Tampa girl was charged with DUI three times in the last three weeks – with two of the charges just days apart. She was involved in at least one crash, and fortunately, no one was injured.
According to Florida’s 2010 Crash Statistics, drivers 15 to 19 years of age have the highest rate per 10,000 licensed drivers of crash involvement (363.97). There were 737,645 licensed teen drivers in Florida in 2010, and there were 26,848 injury accidents involving those drivers. About 52 percent of the drivers were girls; 610 of the teenage drivers were drunk drivers, and 23 of them died in an accident.
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is distributing a “Facts About Underage Drinking in Florida” brochure in an effort to stop adults from offering alcohol to minors and to curb drinking among teenagers. The brochure notes that anyone under the age of 21 found in possession of an alcoholic beverage faces a fine of $500 or 60 days in jail. Misrepresenting your age for the purpose of buying alcohol can result in having your driving privileges revoked, 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The minor’s parents and the establishment that sold or served a minor alcohol also face stiff penalties.
Our Treasure Coast car accident lawyers urge parents to educate their teens about the extreme risks involved in drinking alcohol. Please support your teens in their safe driving efforts and lead by example. Always have a designated driver if you will be out drinking, and please buckle up.
About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney
The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida on the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, product liability, dog bite injuries, slip and fall injuries, swimming pool accidents, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims.
The firm represents clients throughout the South Florida communities of Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Stuart, Okeechobee, Vero Beach and Palm Beach, and across the state of Florida. For more information, call (800) 299-8878 or use the firm’s online contact form.