"According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 5,000 kids under 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking - from car crashes, homicides, and suicides" and DUI car accidents continue to claim the lives and limbs of young people in Mississippi, according to the Clarion Ledger. Events like graduation and prom seem to create opportunities for intoxication. In fact, when the Mississippi SmartTrack Survey was administered in grades 6 through 11 during the 2007-2008 school year it found that alcohol is the most commonly used drug among Mississippi students. Across all grades surveyed, 34.8% reported past-90-day use and 26% reported 30-day use. For Mississippi car accident attorneys, these are incredibly alarming statistics.
Per The Century Council, there were 37 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Mississippi in 2009 alone, and 4.1 percent of accidents involved drivers under the age of 21. It's no wonder then, that there are several state-wide campaigns targeting youth. The Mississippi Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition of Hinds County (MUDPC-HC), founded in 2008, launched one of the most recent campaigns, designed to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors. With posters featuring messages like "Alcohol is not the only way to have fun" at the center of their movement, the organization professes to be a collaboration between three free-standing prevention programs: Jackson State University's Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition and Interdisciplinary Alcohol and Drugs Studies Center, and Alcohol Services Center, Inc. Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition. Its goal is to reduce alcohol usage and related consequences to include alcohol-related motor crashes, binge drinking and drinking among youth between the ages of 11-21 in Hinds County, Mississippi.
This year, reports the Clarion Ledger, MUDPC-HC is teaming up with the Hinds County Sheriff's Department to implement a prevention program, timed to coincide with March spring break. Their primary aim is to use promotional materials like coasters featuring images of mangled cars and arrested teens to create conversation pieces. Former students who have had experiences with alcohol-related accidents have been first to back the program, especially as a rather detrimental loophole in state law is gaining attention.
Currently, in Mississippi, minors are not allowed to purchase or be in possession of alcohol...but they can't be punished for consuming it. It was an oversight that eluded legislators for years, and was discovered only after police officers attempted to enforce the newly passed "social host" law - and found that they couldn't. The "social host" law targets parents who give alcoholic beverages to those under the age of 21. Due to the glaring loophole, however, officers couldn't arrest anyone if the kids weren't actually holding drinks when they arrived, even if the minors were "visibly intoxicated." It's an embarrassing gaffe, especially since when the law passed last April, the state was lauded for what was deemed to be praise-worthy legislation.
Fortunately, it does appear that underage alcohol consumption is on a gradual decline nationwide. In the last two decades alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased 35% generally, and there's been another decline of 52% in such fatalities cause by