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Teens like Erin Cox should not be punished

Tuesday’s article by CNN correspondent Kelly Wallace was an interesting read and has (rightfully) sparked a heated debate on the issues of drunk driving and underage drinking.

According to the article, Erin Cox was called by one of her friends who was at a party and drinking underage. The teen who called Cox did so because she was drunk and didn’t feel safe driving herself home from the party. Cox decided to drive over to the party and pick up her friend so she would not drive home drunk.

While The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility stands firmly against underage drinking and in support of the 21 year old drinking age, national data is clear that too many teens continue to make the dangerous decision to consume alcohol underage. Of course, while we would prefer parents be the ones picking up their teens in situations like this, we also believe that Cox made a wise (and potentially lifesaving) decision to not let her intoxicated friend get behind the wheel and put herself and those on the roads with her in danger. Instead of recognizing a smart decision, Erin’s school has chosen to punish her along with all of the party goers though law enforcement confirms she was neither attending the party nor drinking.  

The report of the party suggests there were already enough bad decisions to go around in this situation. But as being a designated driver has been accepted as a smart decision for legal consumers, Ms. Cox’s decision to be a designated friend should be acknowledged in the same way. Punishing someone for making a good decision in a bad situation seems to run counter to encouraging young people to make the right decision not to drink underage or drive after they’ve been drinking.

(Photo courtesy: ABC News) 

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