It is common knowledge that underage drinking is a regular occurrence across the United States. Young people are faced with the temptation to engage in underage drinking at parties in high school, college and in multiple other situations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recent studies estimate that 11 percent of all alcohol consumption is attributed to underage drinkers. Teenagers and young adults are often unprepared for the consequences of drinking.
This is especially true when an underage person drinks and then drives a car while under the influence. An underage DUI accident can leave a young driver liable for damages, though others might also be liable as well.
Laws Affecting Underage Drinking and Driving in Des Moines
All states carry a mandatory minimum drinking age of 21 years old. Anyone under the age of 21 is not legally permitted to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages. Driving while under the influence is illegal for persons of all ages, of course, and the legal limit is .08.
But some states impose a lower blood alcohol level (BAC) for underage drivers. In Iowa, a person under the age of 21 who is caught driving with a BAC of .02 or higher may face charges for drinking and driving.
Determining Liability for an Underage DUI Accident
When an accident involves an underage driver under the influence, the liability possibilities are somewhat different than in other DUI or likewise negligence-related accidents. There may be other parties liable for the injuries and damages of the other driver and/or passengers in addition to the underage driver.
Because individuals under the age of 21 are not permitted to purchase, possess or consume alcohol, there may be another party involved in the acquisition of the alcohol that the underage driver consumed. The injured victims in the underage DUI accident may be able to seek damages from the additional parties responsible for providing the underage driver with the alcohol involved in the accident.
Consider the following scenarios.
- A college student, age 20, leaves a restaurant after consuming alcohol and is involved in an accident where a driver and two other passengers are seriously injured. Because the DUI driver is underage, it may be possible to sue the restaurant for damages including medical bills, lost wages, property damage and/or pain and suffering.
- An 18-year-old purchases a bottle of vodka at a liquor store, which he consumes with a few friends. When he leaves to take his friends home, he hits a utility pole and one of his friends is killed. His friends’ family may be able to sue the liquor store for selling him the alcohol involved in the fatal crash under dram shop liability laws.
Discuss dram shop liability as well as social host liability in cases of underage drunk driving accidents with your attorney. Each case is unique and the ability to recover damages may vary from case to case.
If you Need Legal Help after an Underage DUI Accident, Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair
If you’ve been injured because of the irresponsible actions of an underage drinker, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering and possibly punitive damages.
Walker, Billingsley & Bair handles auto accident cases, including those involving a drunk driver. We can help you determine who the liable parties are including whether dram shop laws apply, and direct your claim through the appropriate channels.