Despite all commercial efforts, underage drinking continues to be a prevalent problem amongst today’s youth. Underage drinking is prohibited nationwide and Georgia law makes it illegal for adult motorists to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or greater and 0.02 or higher, for motorists under the age of 21. Not only is the practice of driving under the influence illegal, however, but it also has the added detriment of endangering lives. In fact, it’s a risky business whenever anyone drives impaired. Just ask 18-year-old Alexandria Cymone Brooks, of Smyrna, Georgia. Following an early morning drunk driving car accident this past weekend, Ms. Brooks is currently languishing in jail, charged with two felony counts of serious injury by vehicle, DUI, underage possession and reckless driving, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The teen was allegedly driving her 2002 Nissan Maxima the wrong way on a major highway in Cobb County – southbound in the northbound lanes of I-575, near Barrett Parkway, – when she struck a 2005 Ford Focus head-on. When police arrived at the scene, an obviously still inebriated Brooks allegedly confessed that she had been drinking at a party shortly before getting behind the wheel of her vehicle.
Hers was a choice that would eventually cost both her, and her victims, dearly. Brooks faces possible license suspension, jail time and civil litigation while her two victims, a driver and her passenger, face a long road to recovery from the injuries they sustained. Both parties were lucky enough to escape with their lives. However, as many personal injury attorneys will tell you, that isn’t always the case.
After pleading guilty, 23 year-old Patricia Collins Another was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for her part in a wrong-way car accident in Atlanta, Georgia that claimed the life of a Bryan County deputy. The deputy left behind a wife and three young children. The number of similar accidents is countless.
This increasing number of drunken and wrong-way driving accidents has spurred the public into action and simultaneously incited law makers to propose and promulgate harsher penalties that are ostensibly designed to deter motorists from engaging in unsafe driving behaviors. The punishment for underage drinkers certainly reflects Georgia’s zero tolerance policy for intoxicated drivers under the age of 2, with penalties for the first, second and third offenses consisting of:
• License suspension or revocation.
• Fines and varying court costs.
• Clinical evaluation and possible treatment.
• DUI school and associated costs.
• Increased car insurance rates.
• The installation of an ignition interlock device and habitual violator probationary license with the court’s permission.
The question is whether even these measures are enough to hinder teens looking for a good time. Many would say no. Instead, it is going to take a greater degree of parental involvement and accountability, coupled with stiff laws and educational efforts, to really foment a change of any kind.