For most young people, a painful sunburn or a nasty hangover are the biggest hazards of Spring Break. Sadly, however, when the revelry includes mixing underage drinking and driving, Spring Break can have a much more tragic outcome. This combination can have life-altering, even life-ending, consequences, and it is a danger of grave concern to the team at our Panama City underage drinking accident law firm.
This week, the family of one young Spring Break visitor received the type of phone call every parent dreads. According to a report in The News Herald, 18-year-old Bruce George was behind the wheel of a 2001 Ford Taurus, heading east on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach at around 9:15 P.M. on Sunday night. As George, who is from Nolensville, Tennessee, approached the Signal Hill Golf Course area, he veered into the westbound traffic lane and collided with a 2013 Panther scoot cart being driven by Brandon Beverly, a 22-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee. The crash caused Beverly to be ejected from the scooter. Emergency responders transported Beverly to an area hospital where doctors later pronounced him dead as a result of his injuries. Police charges George with DUI manslaughter and took him to Bay County Jail. The investigation is ongoing and a news release indicates additional charges are pending.
The Center for Disease Control ("CDC") calls alcohol use by people under age 21 "a major public health problem," noting that alcohol is both the most commonly-used and the most commonly-abused drug among young people nationwide. Alcohol is linked to the death of more than 4,300 young people each year and contributed to approximately 189,000 emergency room trips by people under the age of 21 in 2010. Underage drinking is made especially risky by the tendency of young people to binge drink. The CDC reports that young people tend to drink more on each drinking occasion than their older counterparts, and a full 90% of all alcohol consumed by young people is consumed in the form of binge drinking, an especially risky form of alcohol consumption.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 20 in the United States. Drinking and driving is always dangerous, but alcohol and automobiles make for a particularly lethal combination for drivers who are under the age of 21. In 2011, nearly 25% of young drivers involved in deadly accidents had consumed alcohol, compared to only 3% of those involved in injury-only crashes and 2% in property damage-only accidents. Young men involved in fatal crashes were much more likely than their female counterparts to have consumed alcohol – 28% of young men involved in fatal crashes had been drinking, but only 16% of young women involved in crashes had alcohol in their system.
As a Panama City personal injury law firm, we have worked with the victims of underage drinking and driving. We are certain that none of our Spring Break visitors wants to cause the type of pain these victims have suffered. We urge our young visitors to make your memories of Spring Break about the good time you had, not the source of life-long regret. If you drink, don't drive.