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Underage DUIs Plague Santa Cruz County

In one case last weekend, 20-year-old driver who allegedly was drunk crashed into a house and injured a woman.

At least five drunken, underage motorists were ticketed last weekend on suspicion of driving under the influence in Santa Cruz County, a spike that has the California Highway Patrol worried.

"The CHP takes underage alcohol abuse seriously," CHP officer Sarah Jackson said in a prepared statement.

The most-serious incident occurred Saturday night in Watsonville, when a 20-year-old man driving the mother of his children and their kids, ages 1 and 2, crashed into a house on Lakeview Road. A woman in the home was seriously injured when she was trapped under the car.

The other weekend incidents happened across the county. The CHP provided this list: 

  • A 20-year-old Santa Cruz woman was cited on Freedom at Prospect in Watsonville on suspicion of being an intoxicated minor, driving on a suspended license and failure to provide insurance.  
  • A 19-year-old Santa Cruz woman was arrested on Gross Road at South Rodeo Gulch, on the outskirts of Capitola, on suspicion of DUI with a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.08 percent, as well as possession of hydrocodone without prescription.
  • A 20-year-old Boulder Creek woman was arrested on Lovers Lane near Bear Creek Road in Boulder Creek on suspicion of DUI with a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.15 percent and driving with a suspended license.  
  • A 20-year-old Watsonville man was arrested on Arista Court in Watsonville on suspicion of DUI with a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.15 percent.

The legal limit for a motorist over the age of 21 in California is 0.08 percent. Underage drivers are not allowed to have any alcohol in their systems.

Jackson said the CHP will work with both the County Alcohol and Drug Program as well as Alcoholic Beverage Control to both prevent and thoroughly investigate any adult providing alcohol to minors.

Linda Stephenson February 05, 2013 at 07:52 PM
What's age got to do with it? Drinking and driving is stupid and criminal. Period.
Janus of Santa Cruz February 08, 2013 at 03:39 PM
DUIs are a symptom of bigger issues, alcoholism and binge drinking. According to a Board of Supervisor Report in November of 2011, 17,000 Santa Cruz County residents have problems with substance use. DUIs are an indicator of this community problem. Janus of Santa Cruz provides all levels of treatment including offering DUI classes for those who are mandated by the courts or by DMV to participate in order to regain their driving privilages. People who get DUIs get an opportunity to go through a process of self reflection in order to examine their relationship with alcohol and drugs. Some find that they suffer from poor decision making, others find that perhaps they indeed may have a problem, while others are not ready to admit to themselves that their DUI may be a sign of addiction. How can we address the issue? PREVENTION STRATEGIES through increasing awareness and education, having discussions with young people around drinking and driving, having a PLAN as to what to do if you find yourself under the influence, and identifying designated drivers; INTERVENTION STRATEGIES through DUI class requirements, suspension of driving privilages, and sobriety check points; identifying if drinking behavior is leading to negative consequences and finding resources for support; and finally, SUPRESSION STRATEGIES through law enforcement.

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