Drinking & Driving


Our Perspective on Spinal Cord Injuries as a Result of Drinking & Driving

In all the years since the Foundation has been established, there have been many accidents resulting in paralysis that occurred because of drunk driving. There are many variables and scenarios. There are innocent victims of drinking and driving and the driver them-self who was drunk. In our cases, the people have been young, between 17 and 30. When first meeting a person in this situation and over a period of time establishing a relationship, it is hard to get a concrete answer on what really happened. Sometimes people say they do not remember how they because paralyzed as a result of their car crash. Invariably, months or years later, sometimes the conversation changes and the person says, “when I had that accident, I was drunk or I had too much to drink.” When paralysis occurs, and the driver was the cause, it is very hard to accept and move forward. To live with a physical disability with limited mobility after an accident is hard enough, but the psychological factors involved in leading a daily life are even more challenging. The strong message would be in prevention and not to drink and drive. Teach your children and encourage their schools to include programs on the effects of drugs and alcohol. Below are some facts and tips provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on preventative measures to combat teen drinking and driving published in October 2012.

Drinking and Driving & Teens

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as of October 2012: Fewer teens are drinking and driving, but this risky behavior is still a major threat.

  • Drinking and driving among teens in high school has gone down by 54% since 1991. Still, high school teens drive after drinking about 2.4 million times a month.
  • 85% of teens in high school who report drinking and driving in the past month also say they binge drank. In the survey, binge drinking was defined as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours.
  • 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system in 2010. Most of these drivers (81%) had BACs* higher than the legal limit for adults.

*Blood alcohol concentration. It is illegal for adults to drive with a BAC of .08% or higher. It is illegal for anyone under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol in all US states. Learn More.

Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving

Below are the October 2012 Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Recommendations on What Preventative Measures Work

  • Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in every state make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. Research has shown that enforcement of MLDA laws using alcohol retailer compliance checks has reduced retail sales of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age.
  • Zero tolerance laws in every state make it illegal for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. Research has demonstrated that these laws have reduced drinking and driving crashes involving teens.
  • Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under less risky conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Every state has GDL, but the specific rules vary. Research indicates that GDL systems prevent crashes and save lives.
  • Parental involvement, with a focus on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do, helps keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive. Parents can consider creating and signing a parent-teen driving agreement with their teens. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road”, new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.