Drinking and Driving Diplomas Down the Drain

May 7, 2015 | By R. Brendan Dummigan of Pickett Dummigan LLP

Students all over the country are getting ready for graduation. This is an exciting time for friends and family to celebrate the success of their loved ones. Cheers and congratulations are in order and there is nothing wrong with a little champagne (if you’re of legal drinking age) to kick off the celebration. However, it is important to celebrate responsibly and protect the future that you’ve worked so hard for.

The unfortunate truth is that drunk driving is still all too common. Combined with the rising rates of binge drinking, many students risk life and limb when they get into a car. This sad fact is especially poignant around the months of April and May – prom and graduation season – when many young adults get into alcohol-related car crashes. Even responsible drivers are at risk because it can be hard to tell if the other driver in the next lane is sober.

In an instant, everything can be taken away because of a bad decision. This is especially true for young graduates, who are often afraid to admit to their parents and other family members that they’ve been partying all night. Some would rather get a ride with a friend (who had also been drinking) than call their parents for a ride home. It can be hard to tell who is “ok to drive” when you’re young and seemingly invincible.

Even if no one gets hurt, Oregon is a zero-tolerance state when it comes to drugs and underage drinking and driving. What this means for those under 21 is that any blood alcohol content over zero is considered drunk driving. The legal limit of 0.08 only applies to those 21 and up. Just because you’re physically safe does not mean your reputation is not ruined if you get pulled over. It should go without saying, but a graduation photo is much more flattering than a mug shot.

Parents of high school seniors are the first line of defense for their loved ones. Don’t turn a blind eye to irresponsible behavior. According to some surveys, some 50% of underage drinkers get their alcohol from parents or their parents’ friends. Even if you would never supply alcohol to those who are underage, your seniors’ friends may not be so principled; consider locking up your alcohol. Make sure that the party your high school senior is going to is well supervised and check in with the other parents if you’re unsure. Although adults who provide alcohol to drunk drivers (underage or legal age) can be liable for a resulting car crash or alcohol poisoning; a lawsuit is small consolation for permanent injury or death.

Remember, even responsible people are at risk. Just because you’re doing everything right doesn’t mean that everyone else is. If you or a loved one gets hurt because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior, you have a right to be compensated for everything you’ve lost. Pickett Dummigan McCall, LLP law firm has decades of experience helping victims of drunk driving and we may be able to help you discover a claim and protect your interests.

Too many hopes and dreams have been crushed by the reckless decisions of a few bad apples. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your future and remember to celebrate responsibly.

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