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Minority Report

It could happen to you:
Student loses friend to drunk driving
Author: Justin Quiroz

In eighth grade, my 14-year-old friend, who I’ll call 
Carlos, invited me to a party. I didn’t want to go 
because I didn’t know anybody at the party, but Carlos 
was pretty popular and decided to go anyways. The next 
morning, I got a call from Carlos’s dad who said 
Carlos was in the hospital in critical condition from 
a car accident. After the party Carlos got a ride with 
a friend who had been drinking. After running a red 
light, their car had swerved uncontrollably and 
smashed into a telephone pole. Carlos was dead by the 
evening and the driver was permanently paralyzed from 
the waist down. 
Underage drinking is a fact of today’s youth. The 
average age teens begin drinking is thirteen years old 
and by twelfth grade, more than three in four teens 
drink some form of alcohol, according to Students 
Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). There are many 
wild parties where teenagers drink some form of 
alcohol. It may be exciting going to these parties 
where people are dancing and having a good time, but 
it can also be nerve-racking when people drink too 
much alcohol and can’t control their body, their 
breath smells like hard liquor and fights occur in the 
A large problem for teenagers who want to go to 
parties where alcohol is involved, or want to drink 
with friends, is transportation. The tragic accident 
that occurred last month on highway 101 is just one 
example where teenagers were killed when alcohol and 
driving were combined in whatever way. Each year 
17,013 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes in 
the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration. California averages 1,400 
deaths and 30,000 injuries from alcohol related 
accidents each year, according to Mothers Against 
Drunk Driving (MADD). 
If thousands of people die each year from drunk 
driving, why do people still drink and drive? One 
reason is that alcohol impairs a person’s decision 
making abilities said Ron Miller, program manager for 
MADD California. 
“People don’t think they’re dangerous drivers when 
they’re impaired, because alcohol impairs their 
judgment,” Miller said. “It also impairs coordination, 
vision, and reaction time.”
Another reason people drink and drive is that they 
probably have gotten away with driving under the 
influence of alcohol and think that they can do it 
again, Miller said. 
Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death in 
young people, Miller said. Teenagers who receive their 
driver’s license are relatively inexperienced, so 
driving under the influence of alcohol creates a huge 
disability, he said. 
When told about the recent crash on highway 101, 
Miller thought that alcohol was at fault, even if the 
driver of the car had not been drinking. 
“If the other young people didn’t drink alcohol, 
someone with a drivers license could’ve driven, rather 
than an inexperienced unlicensed driver,” Miller 
said. “The decision to have an inexperienced driver 
drive was a bad decision, a decision that the four 
teenagers might have been make differently had they 
not been impaired.”
The reality is that underage drinking and driving is 
serious business with serious consequences. For 
drivers under 21 who have .01 percent of alcohol in 
their blood or higher, they will be arrested for 
driving under the influence. Basically, a few drinks 
of beer means you could be arrested if you drive. If 
convicted of DUI, a driver under 21 typically spends 
up to 48 hours in jail and will have their driver’s 
license suspended for at least a year. If the underage 
driver has killed anybody, they could be charged with 
a variety of things including homicide and spend more 
time in jail. 
I would never drink and drive because it is very 
dangerous to do so. I wouldn’t want to hurt my family 
or my friends. Drinking and driving is a big issue not 
only for teens, but also for adults because no matter 
what age you are you can really hurt someone or kill 
someone. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live 
with that in my life. 
Next time you go to a party or go somewhere where 
there is alcohol involved always remember never drink 
and drive and always watch out for your friends. Pick 
a completely sober (as in they only drank water!) 
designated and licensed driver or call your parents. 
Think about it, would you rather be grounded or die? I 
would rather be grounded, how ’bout you?