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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Drinking and Driving Among Teens Down by 54%

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

According to the Center for Disease Control[1] the percentage of high school teens who drink and drive has decreased by more than 50% since 1991.[2]  Despite this positive trend, more needs to be done to reduce the likelihood of an impaired teen driving.  Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash. Drinking any alcohol greatly increases this risk.

Although fewer teens are drinking and driving, this risky behavior is still a major threat to everyone on the road.

  • Drinking and driving among high school teens has dropped 54% since 1991. Still, high school teens drive after drinking approximately 2.4 million times a month.
  • 85% of teens in high school who report drinking and driving in the past month also report binge drinking, defined as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks within two hours.
  • 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 had alcohol in their system. Most (81%) had BAC’s higher than the legal limit of .08%.

Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving – What Works:

Research shows factors that help keep teens safe include parental involvement, minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing systems.

  • Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in every state make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21.  Enforcing MLDA laws through alcohol retailer compliance checks reduces retail sales of alcohol to minors.
  • Zero tolerance laws:  It is illegal in every state for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. Research has shown zero tolerance laws have reduced the number of alcohol related crashes involving teens.
  • Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under less risky conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Every state has a  GDL system, but specific rules vary. Research indicates GDL systems prevent crashes and save lives.
  • Parental involvement, which focuses on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do, keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road,” new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.

The percentage of teens in high school, aged 16 years or older, who drink and drive has decreased by more than half.




[2] High school students aged 16 years and older who, when surveyed, said they had driven a vehicle one or more times during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol.

Parents: Providing Alcohol to Minors In Washington State Will Get You Into Trouble

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

In Washington State, it is illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to minors.  It is also illegal for a property owner to provide a place for them to drink.  The statute provides:

(1) It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control. For the purposes of this subsection, “premises” includes real property, houses, buildings, and other structures, and motor vehicles and watercraft. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor punishable as provided for in chapter 9A.20 RCW.[1]

Violating the law can put you in jail for up to 364 days, subject you to a $5,000.00 fine, or both.[2]

There is a strange exception to the law:  it is not illegal for parents or guardians of their minor child to furnish alcohol to them as long as it is done under their supervision.[3]  This does not mean it is ok for an adult to supervise anyone else other than their child – so providing a safe place for your child and their friends to drink is illegal.  In addition, you may be liable for civil damages if a child leaves your house and is injured because they are intoxicated.

Research has shown that even supervised minors who drink with adult supervision are more likely to have problems with alcohol than kids who are not allowed to drink until age 21. The study was conducted by Barbara J. McMorris, lead author and a senior research associate at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota.[4]  She and her colleagues tracked1,945 seventh graders for three years.  Half of the teens were from Victoria, Australia, the other half from Washington state.

The study found that it didn’t matter in which country parents and youth lived, the idea of teaching teens responsible drinking behavior was not working.   The study found that adult-supervised settings for alcohol use resulted in higher levels of harmful alcohol consequences, contrary to predictions prior to the study.   “The study makes it dear that you shouldn’t be drinking with your kids” says McMorris.

So, the next time you’re asked to buy or provide alcohol to a minor or to allow underage drinking in your home, simply tell them: NO.  It’s bad for them and could also expose you to criminal and civil liability.  Be a smart parent and don’t let any person under the age of 21 drink on your property.

[1] RCW 66.44.270.

[2] RCW 9A.20.021.

[3] RCW 66.44.270(3).

Fire Prevention 101: Keep Your Family Safe

Categories: Personal Injury Resources

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

October marks the month of national Fire Prevention and Awareness.  The risk of serious injury and death from home fires is real.  In 2011, 384,000 homes across the country required fire department emergency responses, which claimed the lives of 2,640 and injured 13,350 others.[1]  Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns.[2]  85% of all US fire deaths in 2009 occurred in homes.[3]  Of the home fires that cause death, 40% had no smoke alarms.  The main reason that smoke alarms fail to operate during home fires is missing or disconnected batteries.

Landlord Responsibility to Promote Fire Safety

In Washington, as in many states, a landlord of a residential unit must ensure that all units have smoke detection devices.[4]  The smoke detection device must be designed, manufactured and installed inside the dwelling unit in conformance with nationally accepted standards and per Washington state rules and regulations promulgated by the director of fire protection.  While a tenant must maintain the smoke detector and test/replace batteries periodically, the owner alone is responsible for installation.  The landlord must also ensure the smoke detector’s performance whenever a unit becomes vacant and before re-letting it.

A landlord who does not comply with this law is subject to civil penalty and may be liable to any tenant who is injured from smoke or fire due to the lack of a functioning smoke detector.

Keep Your Home Fire Safe

  • Cooking Safely: never leave cooking food unattended on the stove.  Keep all flammable objects, such as potholders, towels, and clothing, away from flame.  Also keep the handles of pots turned in.
  • Smoking: try to quit.  If you must smoke indoors, never smoke in bed or leave a burning cigarette unattended.  Never smoke while drowsy or under the influence of alcohol or medications.  Don’t empty hot ashes into a garbage can.  Keep ashtrays away from furniture and curtains.
  • Staying warm: stay safe.  Keep any space heaters three feet away from any flammable objects, including curtains, furniture and bedding.
  • Alarms.  Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including the basement.  Install smoke alarms in all sleeping rooms, especially those occupied by a smoker.  Test smoke alarms once a moth using the test button.  Test and change your batteries every six months.
  • Escape plan.  Determine a home fire escape plan.  Have at least two exits for every room and agree on a meeting place outside with all household members.  Practice your escape plan twice a year with everyone in your home.

For more information on fire safety, go to:

For the duties of a landlord and tenant regarding smoke detectors go to:

Learn More About Home Fire Prevention


  1. Ahrens M. The U.S. fire problem overview report: leading causes and other patterns and trends. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2003.
  2. Ahrens M. Home structure fires. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2011.
  3. Ahrens M. Smoke alarms in U.S. home fires. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2009.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths resulting from residential fires and the prevalence of smoke alarms – United States 1991–1995. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1998; 47(38): 803–6.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). National vital statistics system. Hyattsville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 1998.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2010). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from:  [Cited 2010 Sept 21].
  7. Finkelstein EA, Corso PS, Miller TR, Associates. Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006.
  8. Flynn JD.  Characteristics of home fire victims. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2010.
  9. Hall JR. Burns, toxic gases, and other hazards associated with fires: Deaths and injuries in fire and non-fire situations. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division; 2001.
  10. International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics. World fire statistics: information bulletin of the world fire statistics. Geneva (Switzerland): The Geneva Association; 2009.
  11. Istre GR, McCoy MA, Osborn L, Barnard JJ, Bolton A. Deaths and injuries from house fires. New England Journal of Medicine 2001;344:1911–16.
  12. Karter MJ. Fire loss in the United States during 2010,. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division; 2011.
  13. Parker DJ, Sklar DP, Tandberg D, Hauswald M, Zumwalt RE. Fire fatalities among New Mexico children. Annals of Emergency Medicine 1993;22(3):517–22.
  14. Runyan CW, Bangdiwala SI, Linzer MA, Sacks JJ, Butts J. Risk factors for fatal residential fires. New England Journal of Medicine 1992;327(12):859–63.
  15. Runyan SW, Casteel C (Eds.). The state of home safety in America: Facts about unintentional injuries in the home, 2nd edition. Washington, D.C.: Home Safety Council, 2004.
  16. Smith GS, Branas C, Miller TR. Fatal nontraffic injuries involving alcohol: a meta-analysis. Annals of Emergency Medicine 1999;33(6):659–68.

[2] Hall 2001.

[3] Karter 2011.

[4] RCW 43.44.110; See also Moratti ex rel. Tarutis v. Famers Ins. Co. of Washington, 162 Wn. App. 495, 254 P.3d 939 (2011).