A new study recently published in Pediatrics magazine found that teens who have been in cars with impaired drivers are more likely to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The more times they have been driven around by an impaired driver, the more risky their own driving habits become.

The study surveyed about 2,500 U.S. students each year during their sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school to examine rates of drunk driving over time, rather than just at one point during high school. The study found that between 12 and 14 percent of students reported impaired driving in the past year. Between 23 and 28 percent had reported riding in cars with impaired drivers within the past years.

However, those students who had been in cars with impaired drivers were much more likely to drive while impaired. Teens who had reported driving with drugged or drunk drivers during one of the surveys was 10 times more likely to drive while impaired than a teen who never reported riding with an impaired driver. If the teen had reported riding in a car with an impaired driver on two separate surveys, they were 34 times more likely to drive while impaired. And if the individual had reported riding in cars with an impaired person on all three surveys, he or she was 127 times more likely to drive impaired than a teen who had never reported riding with an impaired driver.

Researchers say that they can’t distinguish driving drunk from driving while drugged in their survey. They also do not know if the impaired drivers the students reported riding with were other teens, or adults such as parents, relatives, or family friends. However, they have concluded that teens who are exposed to impaired drivers may view that behavior as normal. Teens are at a very impressionable time in their lives, and the more times they see a person drive while intoxicated or drugged, the more likely that teen is to see nothing wrong with it.

If you are the parents of a teen, this story should serve as a warning that it’s critical that you monitor the kids your teen chooses to spend time with. Although you may have told them about the dangers of driving while impaired, if your teen is spending time with kids who drive while impaired, they may view it as no big deal.

Drunk or impaired drivers can not only catastrophically injure or kill themselves or another person, they can also seriously impact their lives in other ways. Getting a DUI not only means that you have a criminal record, but you also will spend thousands of dollars in fines, attorney’s fees, and increased insurance costs. In addition, parents who allow their teens to drive while intoxicated can face civil lawsuits from anyone who was injured by the teen. In addition, people who host parties at which alcohol is served can also at times face lawsuits from individuals injured by drivers who became intoxicated at those parties.

If you have been the victim of a drunk driver in the San Francisco Bay area, including Oakland, Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, Berkeley, or the surrounding areas, you have legal rights to compensation from the driver and/or his or her insurance company. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that anyone who chooses to drive while drugged or drunk should be forced to pay for their bad decisions.

Call Micha Star Liberty at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 if you have been injured in an accident with a drunk driver. She will be happy to provide you with a free consultation on your legal right to compensation. Call to learn more.

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