‘Drunk, Driving, And 17’ Ending, Explained: Does Kim Go To Jail?


“Drunk, Driving, and 17,” as the name suggests, is a film that revolves around the perils of underage drunk driving. Everyone owns up to their part in the accident that happens, except the guy who tries to force himself on Kim. He is pretty much forgotten about after his brief appearance. When we saw the movie, we were initially confused about its message. Why did they try to justify the perpetrator’s actions so much? It took us a while to realize that the makers were saying that if even one person in the chain of people responsible for the mishap had done their part right, a disaster could have been averted. The entire village is collectively responsible for the safety of every individual citizen, and this is the message that the movie is trying to send. We can agree with this, and “Drunk, Driving, and 17” establishes it through the following narrative.

Spoilers Ahead

What Caused The Accident?

Dan is a star basketball player at his school, and he has been selected to play in the national games with his team. He has a lot going for him: a loving girlfriend, Kim, and a partial athletic scholarship to Stanford. Kim is also waiting for her reply from Stanford, as she wants to be in the same place as him. She has been accepted at other universities but is holding out for Stanford. Her mother tells her to think more about her life than trying to center it around Dan, but Kim doesn’t want to listen. Later that day, she gets the news that she has been waitlisted at Stanford. She immediately tells this to Dan and says that she could get a job in his city and apply again the next year, but Dan says they can talk about that later. 

In school, Dan’s popularity has really shot up. Though he is still dating Kim, he is not averse to the advances made by other girls and is, in fact, enjoying the attention. As for his parents, they are wondering whether it would be appropriate to let the kids hold a party at their house. All the parents in the locality take turns doing it, and it is also their way of keeping an eye on the kids. Martha, Dan’s mother, is taking her time to think through the decision, and the other moms she speaks with offer differing opinions. Eventually, she gives in to the idea and tells the kids they can party at her house.

Before the party, Kim’s friends tell her about Dan being a little too friendly with Heather. Kim is upset, but she tries to brush it off, saying that Dan told her. But things at the party do not get better. Kim sees for herself what her friends mean. She is getting insecure, and it all boils over when she catches Dan kissing Heather. He breaks up with Kim, saying that he doesn’t want to be tied down to her when he is going to a college that Kim isn’t attending. Kim is upset, and the first thing she does when she makes her way down is to get a drink. Kim never drinks, and she is usually the group’s designated driver for this very reason. But that day, seeing Kim drink, her friend Nikki was concerned for her. But Kim doesn’t answer anything Nikki says, forcing her to give up and take a break. 

Someone uploaded a video on social media of Kim chugging alcohol, and it is making the rounds. A guy takes an inebriated Kim to a room and tries to take advantage of her, but Kim pushes him away. She is in tears and calls Nikki to find her. She also calls her mother to take her home. But Kim is a little out of control, and she makes her way out and into a car. The car belongs to Dan’s parents, and Kim starts driving, which is when she causes an accident. The person injured is Joey, one of Kim’s classmates and Nikki’s boyfriend. He had not attended the party that night because he was working, but he was on his way there because Nikki had called him to help Kim. The next day, Kim is lying unconscious in the hospital with her mother watching over her. She comes to know that the car had hit Joey, who has barely survived. As for Dan’s parents, when they learn what has happened, they start weighing in on their share of the responsibility for the events that have occurred.

Everybody Owning Responsibility

Martha and Tim initially deny all responsibility for what happened. But the state makes it clear that anybody who gives alcohol to minors is responsible for what happens to them and anyone else they might have affected in their inebriated state. This places a legal responsibility on them both. Kim’s mother, Robin, is furious at Martha and Tim and blames them for the party and for not keeping a more watchful eye around. She lets them know that she will be sending the legal bills their way, but we don’t know if she will follow through with the threat. But Joey’s parents do, and they send a legal notice demanding damages for everything that Joey is going through. Though initially hesitant, at least Martha comes around and accepts her responsibility. She agrees to pay up the damages without a fight, as she wants to set a good example for her children. But that is not all. Both parents must serve some time in prison. The lawyer gets the judge to grant them the time separately. Tim will serve first, and Martha will go next so that one parent is present at all times to take care of their children. Martha visits Tim in prison and tells him of her intention to pay up the money. She informs him that if he has different ideas, she will leave him forever.

Back to Kim: even she has been paying the price of her mistake. She has been completely ostracized by her friends at school. As for her punishment, the lawyer tells her that as long as she shows some remorse, she should be able to get off easy. A part of showing remorse is for her to volunteer at MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and go to AA meetings. Kim is not enthusiastic about these measures since she says that she only ever drank once. Nevertheless, she starts going to these places but has little success, at least initially. At the AA meeting, she hides under her hoodie for the first meeting. As for MADD, the lady at the reception recognizes her and calls her out for only wanting to be there for her court case. Kim leaves immediately.

At her first AA meeting, her moderator, Rae, spoke to her and asked her to call if she wanted to talk. Kim calls her after her MADD debacle and because she gets fired from her tutoring job. When speaking with Rae, Kim realizes that she has been feeling bad about the result of her actions this whole time but has not wanted to accept responsibility for them, thinking of it as just something unfortunate. With this realization, she returns to MADD and tells the woman that she genuinely wants to contribute. She also makes plans to get a job to put herself through college. With time, things start returning to normal, and her friends start talking to her again.

‘Drunk, Driving, And 17’ Ending Explained: Does Kim Go To Jail?

Joey is in a wheelchair, and he might be there for a long time before he comes back home. Kim has wanted to apologize to him and he is finally ready to see her. He tells her that he forgives her and that he wants to move past it all. As for his girlfriend, they confess their love for each other and claim that it is a forever thing. This was weird to watch and quite unnecessary if we are being honest. On the other hand, Joey has gotten into the college of his choice, and he is happy. When Dan comes to meet him, Joey asks him why he never visited him in the hospital. All of Joey’s friends came, Dan’s parents were there, and even Kim wanted to come, but Dan didn’t, and Joey is furious at him for not taking responsibility for his part in the whole event. This is a recurring theme for Dan, who doesn’t think he is to blame for anything. We can see why that is so. His father has always supported him, and the “boys will be boys” excuse is deeply entrenched in his mind. He has also been the golden boy for quite a while, and started believing that he cannot do any wrong. But that starts changing soon enough when everyone starts owning up to their faults. When his dad is released from prison, Dan hears him telling Martha that he will accept any and every responsibility to keep his family together. This really teaches Dan to straighten his act.

As Kim’s court date approaches, she is aware that she might be arrested right away. When she is in front of the court, Dan meets her and apologizes to her. Dan finally admits his part in the event and accepts that he shouldn’t have treated Kim that way. Additionally, Nikki and Joey also show up to support Kim. In the courtroom, the judge sees the entire case, and she decides that since a crime has been committed anyway, the term must be completed, and she sentences her to a year in county jail with a fine of $2,000 and 200 hours of community service. At the end of “Drunk, Driving And 17”, Kim is taken away and finally released from prison after 8 months due to her good behavior, we presume. She does go to college and has started spreading awareness against drunk driving while talking about her own experiences and those of her friends. It is a clean ending, with everyone taking accountability for their actions and cleaning up their act in the process.

Final Thoughts

“Drunk, Driving, and 17” was a simple movie—almost educational but overall entertaining. There is nothing negative to be said about it. It was decent, had a good narrative, and other than forgetting the guy who tried to harass Kim, pretty much everything was okay. It is not a movie that is going to get recommended, but it can be watched if it plays on TV.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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