A 16-year-old Kempsville High School varsity baseball player lost his life early Sunday morning, March 7, when the car he was riding in ran off the road and hit a tree in the Pleasant Point section of Virginia Beach. The Virginian-Pilot is reporting that the driver of the car, also a teenager, was drunk or high on drugs.
Virginia (VA) enacted stiff penalties for underage drunk drivers in 2008. In that year, state Department of Motor Vehicle data show that 22 Virginia drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 caused fatal car crashes while drunk. Another 581 underage drinkers were involved in accidents that injured themselves or someone else. Now, anyone younger than 21 years of age can be charged with DUI in Virginia when tests show the boy or girl has a blood alcohol content of .02, or the equivalent of a single beer consumed less than two hours earlier.
Drugged driving also puts teens and everyone else on Virginia’s roads and highways at great risk. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has reported that according to "the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 10.2 million people age 12 and older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed." A survey of injured drivers treated at a Maryland shock-trauma center revealed that more than half had recently taken an illegal drug.
My colleagues and I have too often seen the pain and suffering drunk and drugged drivers cause. This weekend’s fatal accident shows that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol tragically affects people of all ages, and my thoughts go out to the family of the deceased teen. I can only hope that people considering getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs will think about the terrible consequences and hand their keys over to a sober driver.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.