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Most of the news this year has been dominated by stories about Covid-19. Because of this, some other important news either doesn’t get reported or doesn’t get much notice. One such news item appeared in late March, and it is a report that Arkansas parents need to be aware of.

A car insurance comparison site conducted an analysis of publicly available data on teen alcohol use and driving behaviors. It then ranked 15 states based on these criteria. According to the report, Arkansas had the highest rate of teen drinking and driving among the 15 states studied.

The data analyzed was from 2017, which is the most recent data available. The report found that just over 25 percent of Arkansas teens anonymously surveyed admitted to drinking alcohol within the past 30 days. More worrisome was the fact that 10.7 percent of teen respondents in Arkansas admitted to having driven a car after drinking (within the previous 30 days). This is more than three times the number of adults who drove after having too much to drink (3.1 percent).

To be sure, it is very possible that most teens who drove after drinking were not legally drunk by adult standards (having a blood-alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 percent). However, as novice drivers, teens are already at higher risk of crashes. Driving with even small amounts of alcohol in their systems would greatly increase the risk of an injurious or fatal crash.

And from a legal perspective, teens who drink and drive have a much lower threshold for legal consequences. Under Arkansas’s zero-tolerance law, any driver under the age of 21 can be charged with DWI if their BAC is at or above 0.02 percent. In some cases, that can equate to consuming a single alcoholic drink.

If you are the parent of a teen driver, please have a serious talk with them about the dangers – physical and legal – of drinking and driving. And if your son or daughter has been charged with underage drinking and driving, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as reasonably possible.