It may (or may not) surprise you that Generation Z is more likely to be charged with a DUI than other driving-age generations. According to a study conducted by LendingTree, Gen Z have the highest rate of DUI charges per drive amongst all generations currently on the road. Gen Z scored a whopping rate of 2.17 DUIs per 1,000 drivers in 2023 – which may seem low, until you compare it with Baby Boomers’ modest 0.53 DUIs per 1,000 drivers and the Silent Generation’s 0.26. During the time period under study, Gen Z also had the highest rate of accidents and driving citations, such as speeding tickets.
There’s an explanation to this statistic that may seem deceptively simple. Generation Z is currently composed of young, inexperienced drivers. People under the age of 25, whose frontal cortex is not yet fully developed, tend to have lower impulse control and a higher incidence of risk-taking. Gen Z’s concerning rate of DUIs is therefore most likely attributable to their age, rather than something such as a generational drinking problem. As Gen Z gets older, they will be less likely to engage in risky behaviors, thus their rate of DUIs arrests will probably go down.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA for short, has been aware of this fact for years: NHTSA findings show that drivers aged 21 to 24 years old make up the largest portion of drunk drivers. These drivers have just gained access to alcohol, and their inexperience is embodied in ill-informed decisions to drink and drive. However, drivers without legal access to alcohol also drive under the influence. In 2021, 27% of drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes had alcohol present in their blood. State governments try to prevent underage drinking and driving by instituting low or no tolerance BAC limits for drivers under 21 years of age. While the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers over 21 is typically
0.08g/dL, underage drivers must obey by limits ranging from 0.00 to .02 g/dL.
So what can we do to beat these DUI statistics?
If you are a member of Generation Z, responsibility is key. Naturally, you’ll want to live your twenties by going out with friends, having drinks, and celebrating your youth. The good news is that you don’t have to stop engaging in these festivities to avoid being charged with DUI. Finding a safe ride home is becoming increasingly more accessible with the advent of apps like Uber or Lyft, and of course, you can always call a friend or an old-school taxi driver to come pick you up. The best course of action is to not take your car with you if you know that you’ll be drinking once you arrive at a function. Hitch a ride with a sober friend or hire a ride to the party, so that you aren’t tempted to get behind the wheel once you’ve begun drinking and your decision-making capabilities are impaired. You may be hesitant to spend money on a ride – we get it, who’s budget isn’t tight in college? But remember that a DUI will cost you much more in financial, legal, physical, and emotional impact!
Of course, with friends being the central relationships of your teens and twenties, you’ll want to make sure your friends are taken care of, too. Talk to your friends about the severity of drinking and driving, and make plans for everyone getting home safely before the night ends. If you’re at a party and your friend is trying to drive home after drinking, don’t be afraid to step in. You might actually save their life!
If you are a parent or guardian of a Gen Z driver, have a serious conversation with them about drinking and driving. In order to keep them and their future safe, it is vital that your Gen Z child knows that there are better options than driving under the influence. Offering to be a safe ride for your child can save their life, and it can also save your wallet. Most members of Generation Z are not far along enough in their careers to have money saved up to pay legal fees, whether those be from a criminal case after the driver is charged with DUI or from a civil case after the driver is in an automobile accident. Therefore, many parents of Gen Z end up footing the bill when their child drives under the influence. Another financial obstacle Gen Z drivers face after a DUI is insurance. Insurance rates are already higher for younger drivers, and a DUI will only make that worse. For more information, check out our blog about what happens to your insurance after a DUI conviction.
Best & Brock Can Help
If you or your Gen Z loved-one have been charged with DUI, Best & Brock can help. We understand what is at stake for young drivers charged with DUI, and we come to court ready to defend your future. Reach out to set up a FREE consultation!