Drug and alcohol abuse lands many Missouri teens in the juvenile justice system. The issue is a complex one because there isn't a single reason why teens choose to use substances. Rather, there are a myriad of reasons that lead teenagers into abusing alcohol and drugs that are as different as the teenager's personalities are.
Missouri residents know that teenagers and alcohol can be a dangerous combination. Not only is underage drinking illegal, it can cause deadly accidents and other health issues. The problem is made worse by the fact that young people often don't realize the consequences their actions can have on their lives and the lives of others.
Surely no one in the state of Missouri, and likely beyond, has missed the media coverage surrounding the Michael Brown shooting about a year ago. Opinions have been mixed in the news media about the details of his death, some based on fact, some based on emotion. But a recent report released by the United States Department of Justice sheds some light on the treatment of young offenders in the Family Court in St. Louis County that likely permeates the criminal justice system in many counties across the country.
Though it’s not technically federal law, every state’s drinking age is set at 21. This is for the safety of younger people, whose brains have not finished developing yet. Plus, younger drinkers tend to be more reckless, especially behind the wheel of a car As such, being pulled over for driving while intoxicated is a hefty offense for minors.
In the state of Missouri, minors may have their driving privileges suspended if they are charged and convicted with minor in possession. The length of the suspensions may vary depending on the number of offenses the individual has on their record.
In June 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Miller v. Alabama, holding that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. That decision has left some of Missouri’s offenders in limbo as state courts try to determine the best course of action.