Doug / 05-28-2012 / Auto Accidents

Prom, Graduation Season Sees Annual Spike in Alcohol-Related Fatalities

In the video above, John Templeton, Jr. recalls leaving a Florida bar in 2002 after night of drinking when he was 19 years old and how his next memory was waking up to find himself handcuffed to a hospital bed with a state trooper informing him that he was responsible for the death of 18-year-old Julie Buchner. Templeton and his father now run Footprints Beachside Recovery in Treasure Island, and he told Central Florida News 13 that he still carries a picture of Buchner in his wallet. Templeton told News 13 that he has not had another drink since the night of that fatal auto accident.

“They forgave me for something unforgivable, and I was spared a 15-year prison sentence,” Templeton told News 13 for a story published on February 18, 2012.

We are posting this video now because we are in the middle of prom and graduation season, a notoriously dangerous time for underage drinking and drunk driving accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than one-third of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving victims under the age of 21 occur during the prom and graduation season months of April, May and June.

Florida has a “Zero Tolerance” law for drivers under the age of 21, meaning that a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher results in an automatic suspension of driving privileges for six months. The possible fines, legal defense fees and auto insurance increases should be enough to dissuade some teenagers, but the possible lifetime of regret from a fatal accident like this one from a decade ago really drives that danger home.

It is important for parents to not only speak to their teenagers about the consequences of driving under the influence, but also refrain from thinking they are keeping their kids safe by allowing them to drink at home instead. We will discuss some of the risks of that logic on Friday.

Wooten Kimbrough, P.A. – Orlando personal injury lawyers

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