The toxicology report of a Cobb County high school student who was killed in a car accident in January has confirmed that he had a blood alcohol level of .133 at the time of the crash.
16-year-old Garrett Reed was killed on January 24th in a collision with another car. Reed had been drinking for several hours before the crash, and before he left his friend’s home in his car, he told him that he was drunk, but was able to drive. As the accident later proved, Reed had been in no condition to drive.
A week after the drunk driving accident, the mother of one of Reed’s classmates Kecia Evangela Whitfield was arrested on charges of providing alcohol to Reed and his friends. She is awaiting trial in April.
The accident shocked the community, and put the spotlight on the problem of teen drunk driving. The fact that Reed was able to obtain a half gallon bottle of spiced rum from an adult is appalling, but not that surprising. A survey by the American Medical Association had revealed in 2005 that far too many teenagers were able to obtain alcohol from their parents, while close to 40 percent of teens admitted that they had been able to obtain alcohol from a friend’s parent. At least one out of four teenagers admitted that they had attended a party where teenagers had been consuming alcohol in front of parents.
There is a widespread misconception that giving a child alcohol is a rite of passage. Far from it, giving alcohol to a child places severe pressure on a teenager to drink. In Reed’s own community in Powder Springs, Georgia, teenagers admitted that it is easier to obtain alcohol from parents and other adults than to go through the charade of using a fake ID.
Tackling the problem of underage drinking requires a collaboration of law enforcement agencies, high school and college authorities, and the families themselves.In Cobb County which has woken up to the harsh and unpleasant realities of teen drunk driving, a Cobb Alcohol Task Force which comprises of community volunteers is working to make it harder for teenagers to obtain alcohol. A campaign called ‘’Adults Who Host Lose The Most’’ works to educate adult citizens about the dangers they invite when they provide teenagers with alcohol. Ultimately, there is only so much that the police, volunteer groups or Atlanta drunk driving accident lawyers can do to deal with the problem of underage driving. Parents must step up and play their part too.