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Binge drinking can lead an underage driver to an OUI charge

College students under the age of 21 sometimes indulge in binge drinking with friends.

They might believe they can drive themselves home afterward, but have they considered what happens if law enforcement pulls them over on suspicion of OUI?

Binge drinking explained

The Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Advisory Council defines a binge as “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08-gram percent or above.” The Advisory Council goes on to say that this pattern refers to the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks for a man and four or more for a woman in the space of about two hours. The definition of binge drinking developed from studies of the popular pastime in which college students often engage.

Driving dangers

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes represent the leading cause of death for teenagers, and an underage drunk driver was present in almost a quarter of those fatal crashes. Intoxication severely limits judgement and the brain’s ability to react to potentially dangerous situations. It slows reflexes, dulls vision and causes erratic driving performance. However, young people usually believe they are invincible and therefore do not hesitate to get behind the wheel of a car despite their inebriated state.

Facing penalties

The Massachusetts legislature passed “Melanie’s Law” in 2005, which strengthened the penalties for a conviction of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Named in honor of a 13-year-old whose death a drunk driver caused, the law allows for up to 30 months of jail time and as much as $2,000 in fines for a first offender. You will also lose your driving privileges for a year. If you or a loved one should find yourself in this position, explore your legal options. Next steps would include a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding your arrest for OUI. You have family, friends and plans for a bright future, and your brush with the law will probably make you think carefully before you participate in binge drinking—and driving—again.


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