Celebrity DUI's Affecting Your Adolescent?

drunk drivingNick Nolte, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Mike Tyson, Haley Joel Osment, Rip Torn, Khloe Kardashian, Kim Mattingly, Natasha Lyonne, Cynthia Watros, Mel Gibson, Jamie Pressley, Barron Hilton, Daniel Dae Kim, Keifer Sutherland, Mischa Barton, Shia Labeouf and several athletes. What do all of these celebrities have in common?

If you guessed DUI’s – you were right.

In this ‘celebrity obsessed’ society we now live in, it is interesting to look at the effects these powerful people have on the choices that young drivers make about drunk driving. For example, the popular Kardashian name has become an empire and the definition of inspiration to young girls. The three sisters have become role models so how does Khloe’s DUI affect young girls’ perception of drunk driving? I would hope that it would be an example of what not to do, but in actuality, it is probably doing more harm than one thinks.

In fact, the very popular Paris Hilton DUI arrest, made top news in 2006. Just two years later, Barron Hilton, Paris’ 18 year old brother, was arrested for DUI charges. Not only was he under the influence, he was also underage. Did Paris’ irresponsible decisions impact Barron’s?

Obviously, the glamorous celebrity world is unlike the average person’s lifestyle. However, as often as these celebrity scandals are in the news, it is that much more important for parents to talk to their children about drinking. No matter where kids are, they are seeing reports about their idols and they are most often going to make sense of it on their own, without the guidance of someone telling them it is not acceptable (even though the star of Disney’s ‘Even Stevens’, Shia Labeouf thought it was).

A Closer Look

Three million American teenagers between 14 and 17 have already developed a drinking habit. Statistics also show that adolescents under 15 years old that develop a habit of drinking alcohol are at a high risk for future problems with alcohol dependence. It is important to see how these statistics translate into drunk driving figures. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and one out of three of those are alcohol related. The highest rate of alcohol driving is associated with drivers 21 to 24 years.

The nationwide nonprofit organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is promoting a campaign that influences parents to start talking to their kids about alcohol. With peer pressure and the strong influence of their celebrity idols, they are being pulled in various directions and it is the most urgent job of the parent to sort out these misconceptions.
Even though it may not seem like it, parents are the most influential on their teens regarding alcohol. If you start the conversation now, you will avoid big problems later.

Know the Consequences

In Washington State the law states:

RCW 46.61.503 Driver under twenty-one consuming alcohol — Penalties.

(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a person is guilty of driving or being in physical control of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol if the person operates or is in physical control of a motor vehicle within this state and the person:

(a) Is under the age of twenty-one;

(b) Has, within two hours after operating or being in physical control of the motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of at least 0.02 but less than the concentration specified in RCW 46.61.502, as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506.

(2) It is an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (1) of this section which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after the time of driving or being in physical control and before the administration of an analysis of the person's breath or blood to cause the defendant's alcohol concentration to be in violation of subsection (1) of this section within two hours after driving or being in physical control. The court shall not admit evidence of this defense unless the defendant notifies the prosecution prior to the earlier of: (a) Seven days prior to trial; or (b) the omnibus or pretrial hearing in the case of the defendant's intent to assert the affirmative defense.

(3) Analyses of blood or breath samples obtained more than two hours after the alleged driving or being in physical control may be used as evidence that within two hours of the alleged driving or being in physical control, a person had an alcohol concentration in violation of subsection (1) of this section.

(4) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.