The legal drinking age in Washington State is 21 years old. Yet, a recent trend shows more and more teens are driving while under the influence. The problem appears to be especially troublesome in Sammamish, about 20 minutes outside of Seattle.
Studies show 40 percent of drunk driving arrests in the town every year involve those younger than 21 years old. A large number of these drivers are not even adults. Sammamish's drunk driving arrest rate for minors outpaces nearby towns by far. For example, Redmond reports that those younger than 21 years old account for less than 15 percent of the town's drunk driving arrests.
The problem could be that Sammamish has more young adults than any other town in Washington. To combat this high rate of drunk driving among teens, a Sammamish police chief has created the Youth Impaired Driving Initiative, which aims to bring the community together to understand why kids are drinking and driving at alarming rates. It also hopes to find ways to combat the problem. Law enforcement officials believe that this is a community problem, even though underage drinking and driving appears to be on the rise in many cities across the nation.
All states have zero tolerance laws that make it illegal for someone under 21 years of age to drive a vehicle with even a negligible amount of alcohol in their blood. In Washington, the blood alcohol content limit is 0.02. Although this law may seem harsh, it was created to protect teens from the dangers of drinking and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 35 percent of fatalities involving teens age 15-20 years old are caused by a drunk driving accident.
Source: Patch.com, "Do Sammamish Teens Have a Drunk Driving Problem?," Kendall Watson, March 19, 2013