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Patrick Austin
Patrick Austin
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Teens’ Lives Threatened by Drunk and Drugged Driving

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A tragic reminder that driving while intoxicated is not a problem limited to adults who abuse alcohol came with the sad news that a 20-year-old lost his life when the car being driven by his 18-year-old friend ran off I-40 in Raleigh, North Carolina (NC), and hit a stand of trees. The fatal accident occurred late in the afternoon of May 29, 2014. WRAL and other news outlets named the deceased victim as 20-year-old Chase Morgan Rodgers.

Only one car crashed, and the driver has been charged with provisional DWI pending the results of blood tests. She and a second passenger in the vehicle, who police have reported is just 17, also suffered non-life threatening injuries in the wreck.

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Two of my Carolina wrongful death law firm colleagues have written recently about the risks drunk and drugged drivers pose to friends and family members. What stands out about this more recent deadly automobile accident is how avoidable it was. In a perfect world, teens should never have access to alcohol or mind-altering drugs in the first place. Questions of whether an 18-year-old could drink or get high responsibly should never even arise.

But, this being the real world, it is more important to use this supremely preventable tragedy to emphasize the message that no one of any age should get behind the wheel after drinking or drugging. Young people will party, get drunk, get stoned. The result, however, is too many lives end and get ruined every day when high school and young college students drive after becoming intoxicated. Convincing teenagers and young adults to give up the keys rather than their lifestyles is imperative.

My deepest condolences go out to the Rodgers family. Losing a loved one is always heartbreaking, but the pain is made even worse when the loss is sudden and completely unexpected.

EJL