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Virginia teens less likely to drink and drive than national average

Parents of teenagers know that they are in a battle with time. As they urge their children to wait until they mature to test the waters of intimate relationships and alcohol use, they know at the same time that teens are often impatient to experiment with both.

In Virginia, the penalties for teenage experimentation with drinking and driving are harsh. Our "zero tolerance" approach is well known. Less well known is the fact that our teens are less likely to drive drunk or buzzed than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says that nationally, the percentage of high school teens, ages 16 and above, who report drinking and driving has dropped from 22 percent in 1991 to 10 percent in 2011: a 54 percent drop.

Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we do even better: only 6.8 percent of high school teens report driving after consuming alcohol. Compare that to North Dakota, the state with the highest reported percentage, at 14.5.

As you undoubtedly know, in Virginia, everyone under age 21 is prohibited from buying, possessing or consuming alcohol. If you are stopped by law enforcement officials and your blood alcohol content is measured as low as 0.02 percent, your court penalty will include a driver's license suspension of a year from the date of the conviction, with a mandatory minimum fine of $500. The court can choose to sentence you to complete at least 50 hours of community service, however.

A parent understands what a child might not: an attorney experienced in DUI defense can help protect the rights and future of a teenager. 

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