South Dakota’s second largest city, Rapid City, is trying to cope with an increasing number of drunken driving cases involving teens. The frequency of these incidents is alarming even though the number of fatalities fell in 2013 as compared to the previous three years. The stories are as terrifying as well. In mid-September, seven teens were injured when two vehicles collided, of which both drivers in their teens were suspected of DUI. Two of the seven were critically injured.

Not Enough Book Reading

The authorities have been trying to analyze data closely, which according to past data the numbers indicate a pattern of increase and decline in the prevalence of drunken teenagers behind the wheel in the city. Statistics indicate state wide wrecks that involved teenage drivers age 13 to 19 stood at 82 in 2013 with no fatalities and 41 injury crashes. Earlier in 2012, there were 88 crashes out of which 4 were fatal. In 2011, the number of crashes was much higher at 104, with 5 fatalities. In 2010, there were 4 fatal DUI related crashes out of a total of 100 crashes.

I want to be cool!

On the other hand, South Dakota’s statistics of wrecks involving teenage drivers age 13 to 19 only goes to show that teens could be as reckless without being impaired. 3,838 crashes were recorded in 2013, out of which 12 were fatal. In 2012, the state registered 3,421 crashes with 14 fatalities. There were 11 fatal crashes out of 3,645 recorded in 2011 while there were 20 fatalities out of 3,858 crashes in 2010. The number of injury crashes was above 1,000 for each of these years.

Rapid City’s most recent crashes are considered alarming due to the large number of passengers in the vehicles. The first teen related DUI involved a 16 year old female driver who on Sept. 13, caused a rollover accident in which all the three passengers were thrown out of the vehicle. The accident occurred off Fifth Street south of town.

It could have something to do with the city’s name.

He probably has straight A’s in school too.

Lack of Corporal Punishment?

The driver and passengers were not wearing seat belts. One of the passengers, a 14 year old male was seriously injured.  In another teen related DUI accident on Sept. 19th, a vehicle driven by Robert Young Dog Jr., 18 of Custer led police on an early morning pursuit. Following the chase, the driver smashed the car into a tree on Prairie Avenue, after which it caught fire.

According to records from Rapid City Police, the department has made around 708 DUI arrests this year, so far. Of these, 57 drivers were teenagers who have been charged with DUI. Last year, 89 of the 892 drivers cited for drunken driving were teenagers. 88 of the 878 citations in 2012 were handed out to teenagers, out of which 9 were alcohol related crashes.

A Local Indifferent Teenage Populace

The city’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving Director Lila Doud said that despite efforts to educate young drivers, teenage drunken driving remains a prevalent issue. Doud said she was short of words and was simply disgusted at the apathy teenagers have shown despite numerous safety programs conducted by MADD. According to DUI attorneys, South Dakota DUI laws are among the toughest in the country. First time offenders age 21 or over face up to 1 year in jail and can be slapped with $1,000 in fines while their driving license can be suspended for 30 days to 1 year. Drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02% are liable to be arrested and charged with a DUI.