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Drunk driving accident? Alaska teens less likely to be involved

Here in Alaska, approximately 250 teenagers are injured in drunk driving accidents annually. While teen DUIs are still a problem, there has been a downward trend in the number of alcohol-related accidents in the past decade. However, the Department of Health and Social Services released statistics that show about a quarter of all DUI citations here in Anchorage are issued to underage drinkers. If a teen causes a drunk driving accident, he or she can face serious criminal charges in addition to possible civil litigation if anyone is injured or killed in the crash.

One reason for the decline in DUI accidents involving teens is because teenagers are educating each other about the dangers of drunk driving through public service announcements that the students themselves create. Additionally, teenagers in school districts around Alaska are indicating in risk behavior surveys that they are not drinking. This spreads the message to others that not everybody is doing it, so teens don't need to drink to be cool.

School programs such as the Alcohol Safety Action Program also focus on connecting teens with victims and perpetrators of alcohol-related accidents so they can get firsthand accounts of the dangers. These programs have had a hand in preventing around 80 percent of first-time offenders from repeating the offense. Not only has teenage drunk driving decreased in Alaska as a result of these programs, but the number of teens getting into cars with drunk drivers has also gone down.

Though statistics are showing that the roads in our state are gradually becoming safer, there is still a lot of room for improvement. People continue to be injured or killed because of drunk driving. Any driver who causes a drunk driving accident may be subject to a personal injury or wrongful death suit in our state. Any compensation awarded to the victims in such a suit can help them pay medical bills and other expenses related to the crash, as well as help them move on emotionally so they can focus on their physical recovery.

Source: ktva.com, "In wake of DUI tragedy, Alaska sees improvement," Matthew F. Smith, July 29, 2013

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