Whenever a teen gets behind the wheel of a car and drives drunk, it is a bad situation. Even more horrific is when that teen crashes and dies. With all of the awareness we have about drunk driving now, you would think and hope this would still not be happening. But it is. Thousands of teens die every year in drunk driving accidents. Let's face it, teens think they are immortal. They don't think it's going to happen to them. Plenty of adults think that way, so why wouldn't young people, who have little concept of the harsh reality of life? But when one teen drinks and drives and dies ... should her friends be arrested? Yes. At least according to the Glastonbury, Connecticut police.
When 17-year-old Elisabeth Jane Modlesky got behind the wheel with her four male friends in the car, she was way over the legal alcohol limit. After the teens were dropped off, Elisabeth was the last one left in the car, so she took over the wheel to drive herself home. She was only half a mile away when she hit a tree and died.
Two of the friends are now being charged with reckless endangerment. If they get the maximum, they could spend a year in jail. Police determined that these two friends knew Elisabeth was drunk and did nothing to stop her from driving the vehicle.
This sounds like a terrible situation all the way around. A young girl has died way too soon from something that could have been easily prevented. However, should her friends be charged?
It's unclear why the police decided that criminal charges were necessary, but it begs the question whether teens are responsible for other teens' poor choices. I remember being in a store with a friend when I was about 13 and she stole something. She was arrested, I was not. Should I have been because I didn't stop her from stealing? I saw her do it. I knew she was going to. But at 13, your brain hasn't quite mastered getting other people to do what you want. Hell, I can't manage this now in middle age!
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It would have been nice, of course, if the teens had stopped Elisabeth from driving. Or at least tried to. It's unclear what, if anything, they said to her. Perhaps they had no idea how incapacitated she was. I'm not excusing their behavior, but teens have enough to do to keep themselves out of trouble when they're under peer pressure, let alone keep everyone else out of trouble too.
Do you think teens should be responsible for their friends' criminal behavior?
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