HARRISBURG – With prom and graduation season upon us, PennDOT is reminding young drivers to seriously consider the consequences of drinking and driving.
“The last weeks of the school year are an exciting time, but can have devastating consequences if not celebrated safely – especially behind the wheel,” PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., said. “Driving is a complex activity involving multiple tasks and it requires split-second decision making. Drinking alcohol impairs a wide range of skills necessary for carrying out these tasks.”
Drivers between the ages of 16-20 were involved in 1,719 alcohol-related crashes in 2007. Sixty-six of that age were killed in those crashes, including 34 drivers who had been drinking, 25 passengers and seven pedestrians.
Pennsylvania’s Zero Tolerance Law carries serious consequences for those under 21 who are convicted of driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood. In addition, those under 21 who are convicted of driving under the influence with a .02 blood alcohol content, or greater, face severe penalties, including a 12-to-18-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months in jail, and fines from $500 to $5,000.
PennDOT also reminds young drivers that a vehicle does not have to be involved in order for them to lose their driving privileges.
It is against the law for an individual under the age of 21 to consume, possesses or transport alcohol, or lie about their age to obtain alcohol and carry a fake identification card. If convicted, the minimum penalties are a fine of up to $500, plus court costs; a 90-day license suspension for the first offense; a 1-year suspension for the second offense; and a 2-year suspension for the third and subsequent offenses.
In addition to not drinking and driving, PennDOT reminds young drivers to buckle up no matter where they are seated in a vehicle. In 2007, nearly 112 individuals ages 16-20 who died in crashes were not wearing seat belts; 17 of those were riding in the second or third row of the vehicle and one was riding on the exterior of the vehicle.
Aggressive driving, particularly speeding, is another major factor in crashes involving young drivers. Speeding-related crashes involving young drivers ages 16-20 contributed to the deaths of 155 individuals of the same age group in 2007. Other aggressive driving behaviors include running red lights or stop signs, unsafe lane changes and tailgating.
For more safety tips for teens and parents, visit the Teen Driver Information Center.