Young people face distinct types of life experiences, stressors and joys. But, for many at gatherings or home, alcohol is available for consumption, even for adults that are underage. When combined with the quick decision to grab the car keys, that decision can come with a lifelong yoke of personal and legal consequences. This is especially true in states like ours where there are special laws regarding underage drinking and driving.
State fatality statistics
Missouri revealed data gathered in 2021 that points to troubling trends with underage drinking and driving accidents. For the 3 years prior, 26 people died across 24 fatal accidents, where an underage impaired driver was involved. In addition to the lives lost, there were over 130 serious injuries.
Missouri’s zero-tolerance policy
Missouri now has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking (drivers under 21). This means that an 18-year-old with even a trace of alcohol in his system who gets behind the wheel will have their driver’s license suspended. Beyond that driver’s license suspension, penalties could include jail time, ignition interlock devices and fines. Judges have discretion to order additional measures, like a treatment program following a conviction as well.
Investigations and rights reminder
A single beer, glass of wine or shot could alter your life’s trajectory, especially if you use your car for school or work. However, this does not mean that you must make this easier for the police.
Remember that you do not have to assist in an investigation. Maintain your rights to defensive strategies, like invoking your right to remain silent. For example, if asked any questions, like “how many drinks have you had tonight?” Invoke your right to remain silent. You could also ask for a lawyer if you are arrested and read information regarding implied consent too.