1 in 4 teens admits driving under the influence

By: Alicia Gentile Email
By: Alicia Gentile Email

FRUITA, Colo. (KKCO) -- Prom kicks off a dangerous driving season for teenagers. According to a new survey, one in four teens admits to driving under the influence and many believe it does not impact their safety.

The U.S. Census Bureau's data says there are 13 million driving-aged teenagers, and 23 percent of them admit to driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.

Karen Cassera is a Fruita mom with a teenager graduating in 13 days, and her daughter behind the wheel is always a concern.

“I worry all the time. It's no different that it's party season or whatever; it's a worry as a parent every time they get behind the wheel," said Cassera.

Captain Matt Ozanic of the Colorado State Patrol knows all too well the dangers of teens driving under the influence.

“The problem we have is that they don't realize the dangers behind it, the crashes that it causes and the crashes that we cover on a day-to-day basis," said Ozanic.

The survey conducted by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) also found nearly 40 percent of teens do not consider alcohol, marijuana or other drugs a distraction affecting their ability to drive.

“Slows your motor reflexes down considerably, and your hand-eye coordination that deteriorate as a result of the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs," said Ozanic.

Captain Ozanic says educating your teen on the topic is key and having a plan of action can help keep your child stay safe.

“Having a conversation with your parents, having an open dialogue with them both for parents and for the teens to have that safe haven for them to go back to-- I think that's the key to a safer community and safer driving habit," said Ozanic.

“We always have an open line of communication, and I told her wherever you are, don't be afraid to call me," said Cassera.

Captain Matt Ozanic says Colorado has a zero tolerance policy for teens drinking and driving, and that includes the possession and consumption of alcohol as well. The same goes for drugs. He says if you get a DUI, it's 12 points and you lose your license.

A fun and safe way for teens on graduation night is Sober Grad. It's coming up on May 11 from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Two Rivers Convention Center. Sober Grad party is a safe, alcohol and drug free alternative graduation party for all local high school juniors and seniors.

Tickets are on sale in advance at all Grand Valley City Market locations for $10 through May 10th. Tickets will also be available at the door for $12.


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