Few misfortunes are as devastating to young drivers as the effects of drunk driving. Often seen as a minor infraction of the law with few repercussions, the reality of young people driving while under the influence is often life altering. The effects of drunk driving on teen drivers include arrest records, a diminished capacity to qualify for higher education opportunities or jobs, and even death. These effects last a lifetime, and the result of the decision of a young person to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated are very serious.

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Approximately 11 million drivers were arrested last year for drunk driving in the United States (“Drunk Driving Statistics,” 2017). This equates to over 30,000 arrests each day. Divided out by 50 states, that means that 600 people in each state are arrested for drunk driving every single day. Because law enforcement is highly trained to look for and stop drunk driving, chances are that at some point, a person who drinks and then drives will be stopped by law enforcement. Once arrested for drunk driving, the arrest will likely stay on the offender’s record permanently. The arrest most often leads to conviction, which could mean jail time, expensive fines and penalties, and a permanent mark on a person’s easily accessible and searchable public information records. These records are available to future employers as well as colleges and universities.

Gaining access to colleges and universities can be a challenge with a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction. In fact, “many colleges require [a] list any criminal convictions or arrests on your application, including DUI offenses. If you have multiple DUI arrests and convictions, some universities will deny you admission” (“DUI and Future Opportunities,” 2017). Even if a young person is able to gain entrance into college with a DUI on his or her record, they may be admitted on a probationary basis and any further infraction involving drinking or any other criminal activity could lead to immediate and permanent expulsion. Employers also take a record of DUI seriously and when given the opportunity to hire for an open position, they are much more likely to hire someone without a criminal record, especially if the job entails driving or liability of any type. Professional positions such as licensed teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and others also can be affected by a DUI. However, educational and professional penalties pale in comparison to injury and worse.

Approximately one-third of drunk driving death in the United States each year are caused by impaired drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 Additionally, one person is killed by a drunk driver every 51 minutes, and people drive drunk more than 300,000 times each day (Glassman, 2014). The devastation of being responsible for a death or serious injury is a lifelong burden, and the horrific grief of having a loved one killed by a drunk driver is life altering. Young drivers who choose to drink before or while driving should understand the life ending consequences they are choosing when they do so.

Drunk driving affects teen drivers by giving them a permanent criminal record, a potential barrier to achieving scholarships or even admission to colleges and universities, the inability to obtain employment where driving is a key component, and in the worst of cases, the death of the driver, his or her passengers, and innocent bystanders or drivers that come into the path of the impaired driver. Some young people do not initially realize these devastating effects of drunk driving until they are involved in an incident involving alcohol and driving, and drinking and driving is often seen as something they do not have to be concerned with or an act that is a minor law breaker similar to not wearing a seatbelt or rolling through a stop sign. Unfortunately, the effects of drunk driving last a lifetime for all involved and the decision of a young driver to drive while impaired is deadly serious.  

  • DUI and future opportunities: Employment & education. (22107). Criminal Law. Retrieved from https://criminal-law.freeadvice.com/criminal-law/drunk_driving/dui-future-opportunities.htm
  • Glassman, J.S. (2014). Teenage drunk driving: A global concern. JSG Glassman. Retrieved from
  • Drunk driving statistics. (2014). MADD No More Victims. Retrieved from http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html