Underage Drinking on Prom Night Likely Cause of Deadly Utah Crash

A deadly car crash that occurred near Moab, Utah following prom night was likely caused by underage drinking mixed with excessive vehicle speed.

2 teenagers dead and 3 critically injured

Underage Drinking
Photo by: Josh Hallet

In the early morning hours following a prom dance the night before, five teenagers were driving a 2003 Subaru Impreza when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled several times. Three of the teens in the vehicle were ejected; two of those ejected were killed; 16 year old Conner Denney and 14 year old Taylor Bryant. The other teen ejected and the two teens in the car were all flown to area hospitals in critical condition. Police believe that the crash was due to driving at high speeds mixed with underage drinking.

Underage drinking and driving

Underage drinking can be hazardous, especially when inexperienced drivers attempt to operate a vehicle under the influence. The state of Utah has decided that adults who have years of experience driving should still refrain from driving if their blood alcohol limit is over .05%. Teens who drink are known to far surpass this limit. Instead of enjoying a beer with dinner like a responsible adult, teens are more likely to binge drink, making them very drunk in a short period of time.

Alcohol and the teen brain

Photo by: wyinoue
Photo by: wyinoue

Even if a teenager stays away from vehicles when drunk, the alcohol can have damaging effects on their body, especially the growing and maturing brain. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “the adolescent brain may be uniquely sensitive to alcohol’s effects because major changes in brain structure and function occur during this developmental period. ( . . . ) Alcohol exposure during adolescence can have long-lasting effects and may interfere with normal brain functioning during adulthood.”

Other health risks

There are more health risks associated with underage drinking that teens should be aware of such as: potentially fatal alcohol poisoning which can occur from drinking too much too quickly; permanent liver damage from elevated liver enzymes caused by underage drinking; damage to growth hormone production which can alter puberty. Additionally, it is difficult for teens to understand alcoholism should they become addicted and they are less likely to seek help due to them being under the legal age to consume alcohol.

Criminal penalties

Photo by: Sonny Abesamis
Photo by: Sonny Abesamis

Beyond the health risks, there are criminal penalties for those who choose to engage in underage drinking and even far greater penalties if someone is hurt or killed because of a DUI. For teens who are facing criminal charges due to underage drinking or drinking and driving, contact a juvenile defense attorney immediately.

Underage Drinking and Driving

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest celebration nights of the year and underage drinking and driving can be a party crasher.

Dangerous night on the roads

Photo by: Josh Hallet
Photo by: Josh Hallet

New Year’s Eve is one of the more dangerous times of the year to be on the road mostly due to intoxicated individuals assuming they are still capable to drive when they’re not. Mixing drinking and driving with the current hazardous weather and road conditions could prove fatal for some this evening. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), drinking and driving kills over 10,000 people each year. Many of those fatalities are on holidays such as New Year’s Eve when there is a notable uptick of DUI instances.

Call a parent or a friend

Photo by: Greg Matthews
Photo by: Greg Matthews

Among those who may choose drinking and driving tonight are young Utah residents who are under the legal drinking age. Teens and young adults under the age of 21 who consume alcoholic beverages may be aware they shouldn’t get behind the wheel intoxicated, however calling a parent or other responsible adult may not seem like an option. While underage consumption of an alcoholic beverage is against the law and likely to result in a grounding sentence that seems like an eternity, drinking and driving will have harsher consequences, especially if an accident occurs.

Zero tolerance

Photo by: Bob Driskell
Photo by: Bob Driskell

Adults are legally able to drive in Utah as long as their blood alcohol level is below .08%. Utah however has a zero tolerance policy for teens and young adults under the age of 21 drinking and driving. There are more than 100 Utah police officers around the state on watch tonight for drunk drivers. If a driver under the age of 21 is found to be intoxicated behind the wheel they can lose their license, face jail time and incur harsh fines. Worse than jail and a fine, drinking and driving could result in the injury or death of the driver or another person. All individuals planning on drinking tonight are encouraged to obtain a designated driver, even if that ends up being an angry parent. For information about underage drinking and driving and other alcohol related charges call a juvenile defense attorney.