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Teens riding with impaired motorists may mimic DUI conduct

Oklahoma parents of teen drivers may want to note the results of a study that suggests that simply riding with impaired drivers may make teens more likely to drive impaired themselves. The study, published in the April issue of Pediatrics magazine, points to the idea that teens may mirror such conduct when they themselves get behind the wheel. The study also first appeared online on March 17.

Beginning in 2009, thousands of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors were surveyed as a part of the study. The research found that the participating students admitted to driving impaired 12 to 14 percent of the time during the previous month. Also, 23 to 38 percent of those responding said that they rode with impaired drivers during the previous year. The concern is that impaired driving becomes learned behavior among young people who may be highly impressionable. Witnessing impaired driving may tend to normalize such illegal conduct in their eyes.

The research also established that teens who received their licenses earlier were more likely to engage in underage drinking and driving. However, one of the researchers suggested that this is partly the result of such teens driving for a longer period. He recommended possibly delaying the issuance of driver's licenses to teens. He also believes that parents should keep an eye on their children around the community so that they can monitor with whom the teens ride.

A high school student facing a DUI charge may experience significant sanctions if a conviction occurs. Driving privileges may be suspended, fines may be assessed and probation or even jail time may result. When underage DUI charges occur, a criminal defense attorney may advocate for the best interests of his or her client.

Source: Philly.com, "Teens Often Copycat Others Who Drink and Drive: Study", Randy Dotinga, March 17, 2014

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