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Graduation season can lead to drunk driving

Technically, high school students aren't old enough to drink. In reality, many do at graduation parties in the spring. Parents are warned to talk to their kids about the dangers of drinking, especially when it comes to drinking and driving.

One problem is that teens' brains are not yet fully developed. This means alcohol can have an even bigger impact on them than it would on older people.

Their inhibitions may drop after they've had a few drinks. This can lead to more extensive drinking since they stop being cautious, but it can also mean they'll take risks. A teen who never would consider drinking and driving while sober may decide, after drinking, that it's not that big of a deal after all. There are plenty of stories about people making poor decisions while intoxicated that they can't believe they made when they wake up the next morning.

In addition, once the teen is behind the wheel, the alcohol can make it harder to physically drive the vehicle. Reaction times get far worse. Coordination can decrease. Drivers suffer from blurred vision.

Driving a car requires a lot of fine motor skills, all working at once, as well as the mental awareness of what is happening around the car and the ability to quickly process information. Alcohol can take all of those things away from teen drivers who were inexperienced to begin with.

As drinking and driving incidents and accidents increase around high school graduation season, it's important for teens, their parents, and other drivers to know what legal options they have.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "Parents—Talk With Your High School Grads About Celebrating Safely," accessed May 25, 2017

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