Earlier in January, a 16-year-old Cobb County student was killed in a car accident when he crashed his vehicle into an incoming car. The driver of the other car was left with serious injuries. Toxicology reports now show that the teenager Garret Reed was intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of .133 at the time of the crash.
The accident had ignited debate about teen drunk driving, and the role of adults who provide alcohol to under aged drivers. On the evening before the accident, Garret had attended an event at his school. After he left, he obtained a half gallon of rum which he consumed at various spots, including in the parking lot of an entertainment center. Shortly after midnight, Garret left for home, but not before telling his friends that he was drunk. He insisted however, that he felt well enough to drive. A few minutes later, he crashed his vehicle. A week after the accident, police arrested Kecia Evangela Whitfield for providing rum to Garret and his friends. Whitfield was the mother of one of Garret's classmates, and is currently awaiting a court date in April.
Georgia is one of at least 10 states that allow parents to give their own children alcohol, but only in the home or in a private setting. However, it's illegal to give other people's children alcohol. Garret's accident has raised the issue of "social hosting laws" that punish parents whose homes become venues for drinking parties. Parents, whose children use their homes for such parties where other minors consume alcohol, can be fined thousands of dollars. Social hosting laws are being enacted not just in Georgia, but across the country in efforts to crack down on binge drinking by teenagers.With alcohol being one of the biggest factors in teen-related car accidents, it's becoming more important than ever to realize and understand that such accident prevention is not the sole responsibility of law enforcement agencies, but also requires the active participation of adults in the community, including parents. Teenagers find it far too easy to obtain alcohol, even with strict rules against furnishing alcohol to a minor. This has to change, and we need to realize how we endanger children of our community when we place a bottle of alcohol in their hands. According to an American Medical Association study, at least 1/3rd of teenagers say that they were able to obtain alcohol from their parents, while at least 40% say that they have been able to get alcohol from a parent's friend. As an Atlanta car accident lawyer, I think we focus harder on teaching teens the dangers of drunk driving, while neglecting to make sure that they don't obtain the stuff in the first place.