The Effects of Underage Drinking and Driving While Under the Influence

Underage drinking is one of the biggest problems in society today (“Enforcing”). Throughout childhood, the brain is making changes that assist in planning, decision making, controlling impulses, memory, speech and also how the body responds to drugs and alcohol (“NIAAA”). Not only does underage drinking cause problems with brain development and unprotected sex, but it also causes various fatalities. The purpose for this research is to help prevent underage drinking and driving while under the influence of alcohol and to reduce the number of fatalities not only in Volusia County but also throughout the United States.

According to the West Volusia Beacon, bars and restaurants in downtown Deland were caught selling to people under the age of 21. Since then, the City Commission has passed an ordinance to penalize any bar or restaurant that is caught with five or more people under the age of 21 inside their facility after nine o’clock within a three month period, or if there are five or more people who are underage caught with a drink in their hand. Bar and restaurant owners agree that underage drinking has a negative effect on their business.

Older folk don’t want to be surrounded by a college “frat-boy” atmosphere and that is why they stay away from the downtown area. Officials believe that if penalties are executed and enforced the right way that is the only way this ordinance will work (Horton). Nationally, making new laws and better enforcing older laws by using the EUDL (Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws) have helped prevent underage drinking. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Congress created this program in 1998 along with the MLDA-21 and Zero Tolerance Laws, which prohibit the sale and possession of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

These laws also help prevent the amount of drivers on the road with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of . 08 and above which has significantly decreased the number of fatal car accidents by a combined 58 percent (“Enforcing”). Other laws prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from altering or borrowing from a driver’s license from someone to make it appear as if they are 21, carry alcohol in their car or on their body on any street, highway or public place or be in a bar while under the influence of alcohol.

A program called the “Midwestern Prevention Program” combines strategies to help educate children of how harmful drugs and alcohol can be, how to identify social encounters where drugs and alcohol may be involved and how to avoid such situations through extracurricular activities, the amount of alcohol advertising children are exposed to, prevention programs where both families and the community are involved and changing and creating new policies such as the minimum drinking age and other laws (“Other Laws”).

The survey conducted with the students at Deland High School gives a general estimate of how often teenagers in high school consume alcohol, where they get alcohol from, if their parents support their drinking habits, if they drive after drinking and includes a written response from the teenagers about the reasons behind why they drink. The conclusion made from the survey is that most children are likely to try alcohol or drink regularly while in high school. However, it is their parents who have an overall effect on how much their children drink.

These results show that more study should be conducted on the overall effects and experiences caused by underage drinking. INTRODUCTION: As the years have passed, underage drinking has become a bigger and bigger problem. Nationwide there are an estimated 10. 8 million underage drinkers. Forty percent of those 10. 8 million were provided free alcohol by someone 21 or older. Annually, 15 percent of the total alcohol consumed in the United States is consumed by people ages 12-21 (“Other Laws”) and 9. 4 percent have an alcohol abuse disorder (“Nationwide”).

In just one year, problems caused by underage drinking cost the citizens of the United States 60. 3 billion dollars (“Enforcing”). In 2007, specifically in Florida, underage drinking cost the state $4. 5 billion in medical bills and property damage (“Florida’s”) and out of the 4,915 car accidents in Volusia County alone last year, 679 were caused by alcohol (“FloridaCHARTS”). Risking children’s health and futures, underage drinking is responsible for over 5,000 deaths annually throughout the United States.

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abuse drug since it isn’t very difficult to obtain. Fueling the fire of underage drinking is lack of parental guidance (“New”); in a survey given by Nationwide Insurance to 2,006 American households over the phone, the results show that 57 percent believe that parents have the biggest impact on whether their children drink alcohol, 16 percent think it is okay for parents to supervise a party where there is alcohol being consumed by minors and 8 percent believe it is okay for adults to provide their children with alcohol (“Statistics”).

Although there are programs and laws in action to reduce the occurrence of underage drinking, they aren’t being enforced or publicized like they should be. For example, in Tallahassee Florida, the Tallahassee Police Department has been cracking down on underage drinking at nearby universities such as: Florida State, Florida A&M and Tallahassee Community College, along with anyone else under the age of 21 with a drink in their hand. These actions are also similar to the ones being taken in Deland Florida (Horton).

The first time being caught drinking under the age of 21, the offender is charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and may also be put into a diversion program by a judge, the second time the person will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, given jail time for up to a year and receive fines up to $1,000 (“City”). Although, in Tallahassee, a college town where some students drink or have been drinking since before college, Florida State University is considered the most “raging party scene” out of all the colleges in Florida according to (“Rankings”) and even though law enforcement can slightly reduce the amount of underage drinking, it will be more than a challenge to completely put a stop to it. PLANNED OBSERVATION:

There are many rumors and expectations of what goes on at high school parties. So, upon invitation I attended a high school Halloween party (strictly for research) to observe and record the social surroundings before, during and after a person under the age of 21 participates in underage drinking and to also see what different kinds of injuries, accidents, and other activities can occur when teenagers consume amounts of alcohol.

Upon pulling into the driveway, there were 30-40 cars were parked on the front lawn along with cars parked along the sides of the road. The girl and her mother, who were hosting the party, were in the front yard directing people where to park. In the backyard there were multiple groups of teenagers numbering about five of six to a group dressed in their costumes and most holding drinks in their hands. While walking around the backyard, I talked with a few of the partygoers. “So what brought you here tonight? ” I asked one boy I approached.

Sounding heavily intoxicated he replied, “I’m here to have a good time and get f****d up! ” while walking to the back porch of the house. To my left there were two girls competing to see who could do the most back handsprings in a row. The first girl completed five back handsprings. The second completed seven, but upon landing her seventh flip she cut her foot open on a shattered glass bottle that was in the grass she was tumbling on. The main focus of this observation was having a conversation with the mother who was hosting the party.

During the conversation I asked what motivated her to throw this party. “To make my daughter happy. ” she said. “Honestly, my daughter has never really been one of the popular girls in school. There has been times where she has come home crying because kids have picked on her… When she asked me if she could throw a Halloween party I didn’t say yes immediately, it definitely took some convincing but I figured it would make her happy and other children like her. ” The next question I asked her was how she planned on handling all the teens that planned on drinking and then leaving afterwards.

She said, “If anyone has had any amount of alcohol at my house they are not leaving. Upon entering my home I made everyone, whether they planned on drinking or not, give me his or her keys and no one will be allowed to leave unless they have a parent picking them up or if they have a designated driver. If they don’t have either of those, they’re staying the night here. ” SURVEYING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: A survey containing 13 questions was conducted to discover how often underage drinking occurs among the students at Deland High School.

The survey also collects information about where teenagers get their alcohol from, how their parents feel about underage drinking, why they drink, and if they’ve ever driven after drinking or ridden with someone who was under the influence of alcohol. A total of 75 surveys were given to students with ages ranging from thirteen to seventeen in the Deland High School cafeteria. The first and second questions on the survey ask if they’re a boy or girl to see whether more males or females take part in underage drinking, forty-five boys and thirty girls were surveyed.

The second question asks their age to see if as the students get older if more of them participate in underage drinking. One 13 year old, five 14 year olds, thirty-two 15 year olds, twenty-six 16 year olds, and eleven 17 year olds were interviewed. The third question asked is “Have you ever drunk any amount of alcohol before? Yes/No”. Forty of the forty-five boys surveyed answered yes and 21 of the 30 girls answered yes as well. Although there were more boys than girl surveyed, it is obvious that the amount of boys who drink exceeds the number of girls, meaning boys are more likely to participate in underage drinking than girls.

“Have you ever driven after drinking? Yes/No” was the fourth question asked. Eleven boys answered yes, the remaining answered no. Fifteen girls answered yes, eleven answered no and the remaining four did not answer the question. The results from this question were surprising in both a good and bad way. Half of the girls admitted to driving after consuming some amount of alcohol. Whereas only a quarter of the boys surveyed answered no, that they had never drove after drinking.

Question number five was a joint question with the question before asking “If not, have you ever ridden with someone after they had been drinking? ” Twenty-six boys answered yes, the remaining nineteen answered no and twenty-two of the thirty-answered yes. These results show that even if some teens weren’t operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol, they were in a vehicle with someone who was under the influence of alcohol that could have led to a car accident involving not only themselves, but also one or more drivers on the road at that time.

The sixth question asked was “Where do you drink most often? (Choose all the apply)” the students put and “X” or a check mark next to parties, a friend’s house or at home. Between boys and girls, a total of forty-eight said they have drank at parties, thirty-four say they have drank at a friend’s house and thirty have drank in their own home. “Where do you usually get your alcohol? ” was the next question. The students put an “X” or a check mark next to friends, family, store, fake I. D. and/or stranger and chose all that applied.

The results of this question show that forty-three students get their alcohol from a friend, twenty-four receive alcohol from one or more of their family members, twenty-seven buy alcohol from a store that sells to underage persons, two use a fake I. D. to purchase alcohol and ten have a complete stranger buy alcohol for them. This questions purpose is to show how easy it is for a person under the age of 21 to buy or receive alcohol and how common it is for someone 21 or over to provide minors with alcohol.

Question eight asks, “Do your parents allow you to drink? Yes/No” twenty-one of the thirty girls and thirty-four of the forty-five boys surveyed answered no that their parents do not allow them to drink. After comparing these results with the results from the third question asked on the survey, it’s obvious that most parents are unaware of their children’s participation in underage drinking and any other participation in dangerous activity such as driving under the influence, unprotected sex, etc.fifty-seven of the seventy-five students surveyed admitted to having one or more drinks of alcohol in their life, however, fifty-five of those fifty-seven parents do not allow their children to drink but they do it anyway.

Question number nine asks “how many times have you drunk any amount of alcohol? ” the students answered on a scale of 0, 1-5, 5-10, 10-15 and too many to count. Twenty-eight students answered 1-5 times, eleven answered 5-10 times, four answered 10-15, twenty-four answered too many times to count, five answered 0 and three didn’t put an answer at all.

Continuing from the previous question, number ten asks, “Out of those times, how many times have you been “drunk”? ”. Twenty-three students answered every time, six answered 6-10 times, nineteen answered 1-5 times and twenty-two answered that they had never been “drunk” after consuming alcohol. Question 11 asks “Have your parents ever provided you with transportation after a night of drinking? ” twenty-one answered yes while the remaining fifty-one answered no and three did not put an answer. The results from this question provide valuable information about the role parent’s play in a child’s participation and opinion on underage drinking.

The next question asked “Do you think underage drinking is a severe problem in today’s society? ” forty-five students answered yes, they do think it is a problem. The remaining thirty answered no they don’t think it is a severe problem. This question shows that even though more than half of the students surveyed believe underage drinking is a problem, 84 percent still drink. The last question was a written response which asked the students “Why do you drink? ” twenty-seven answered, “to have fun”, eight said, “peer pressure” or “to fit in”, five said depression, and five answered, “to get drunk”.

The remaining students didn’t answer or answered that they don’t drink. The overall discovery made by this survey is that most teenagers in high school are likely to drink based on their parents opinions on drinking, how easily and where they can access alcohol, and for social and emotional reasons as well. Although the survey shows that boys are more likely to drink than girls, the girls who do drink are more likely to drive after drinking which raises the chance of car accidents involving not only that person but one or more people in the cars surrounding them.

Another surprising result of this survey was discovering where teens get their alcohol from, in a brief conversation with one of the people interviewed; they said, “Yeah, alcohol is definitely not as hard to get ahold of as it should be. There are a couple gas stations in Deland that will practically sell (alcohol) to anyone; they’d probably even sell to an infant just as long as they’re making a buck. ” After asking another student where someone would get alcohol if there weren’t gas stations that sold to minors, they said: “They would probably get it from someone who is 21 or older, like family or friends.

I know people who pay random people in parking lots to go buy alcohol for them. ” Upon request, the names of these students will not be revealed; however, the information from these quotes verifies that teens have no trouble accessing alcohol which helps prevent their parents from finding out. RESULTS: This project was conducted to research how common drinking is among high school students, what scenarios influence children to take part in underage drinking, and what actions are being taken to help put a stop to underage drinking.

Nationwide, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die every year from alcohol related causes (“Underage Drinking”). Problems resulting from underage drinking are various fatalities, unwanted or unprotected sex, and disruption of brain development, lack of participation in school, legal problems and numerous physical injuries. Organizations such as the NIAAA and SAMHSA provide help, guidance and information to those who struggle with alcohol abuse and other drug problems. Programs started by these organizations help cure and reduce substance abuse and mental illness all over America.

Conclusions from this survey show that many parents are unaware of their children’s participation in underage drinking, although some parents agree with the statement that they would rather “have their children drink in their home where they can be supervised rather than in a random place where there is little to no supervision”. These parents are the ones who support their children’s drinking habits by buying them alcohol, providing transportation and hosting parties where people from the ages of 12 to 21 engage in underage drinking.

A survey given to the students at Deland High School shows that most students participate in underage drinking, however, a large percentage of the students who drink also agree that underage drinking is one of the biggest problems in society today. The survey also provides information about where or who supplies them with alcohol and how easy it is for them to obtain. The planned observation portion of this project brings to light the support of underage drinking provided by parents and also the dangerous events that can lead to injuries and even death while a minor is under the influence of alcohol.

Overall, what was learned from this research is that underage drinking is a growing problem in today’s society. It is the cause for thousands of deaths not only in Volusia County or the state of Florida, but also throughout the United States. This research displays how often underage drinking occurs in just one city, not including the rest of Florida and what actions can be taken to reduce and possibly even abolish underage drinking altogether. WORKS CITED “Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws. ” CSPI Alcohol Policy. Web. 10 Oct.

2012 “FloridaCHARTS. com-Florida Health Statistics and Community Health Data. ” Florida Department of Health. Web. 10 Oct. 2012 “Official Website Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. ” Web. 10. Oct. 2012 “New Nationwide Report Estimates That 40 Percent of Underage Drinkers Received Free Alcohol From Adults Over 21. ” SAMHSA. 28. June. 2008. Web. 10 Oct. 2012 “Florida’s Enforcement of Underage Drinking. ” Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law. N. p. , n. d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. “Other Laws. ”

Laws Regarding Drugs,Alcohol and Driving. Web. 10 Oct. 2012 “Underage Drinking & the Law. ” Underage Drinking & the Law. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. “City Cracks down on Underage Drinking. ” The Famuan. N. p. , n. d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. “College Rankings – Most Raging Party Scene in Florida. ” College Prowler. N. p. , n. d. Web Horton, Jen. “DeLand Cracks down on Underage Drinking – The West Volusia Beacon. ” Deland Cracks down on Underage Drinking – The West Volusia Beacon. The West Volusia Beacon, 15 July 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2012.