Lifetime’s Drunk, Driving, and 17: Is the Movie Rooted in Reality?

Lifetime’s ‘Drunk, Driving, and 17’ is a drama movie that follows a 17-year-old girl named Kim who has an excellent reputation as she has all the great qualities one might look for in one’s child. However, at a house party, when she catches her boyfriend Dan flirting with another girl, she lets jealousy take over and makes the worst decision of her life — drinking and driving. In just a matter of moments, Kim’s drunk self manages to turn her life upside down when she ends up wrecking her car and her life by almost killing a classmate in a head-on collision.

Although the accident happens at Kim’s hands, Dan’s parents, Martha and Tim, also get criticized by the authorities for letting alcohol be served to minors at their house. The Russ Parr directorial features impressive onscreen performances from talented actors like Savannah Lee Smith, Michael Michele, Matt Riedy, David Shae, and Ethan McDowell. The instance of a drink-and-drive case and the consequences that follow are a couple of predominant themes that are not uncommon in real life. So, it is natural for you to wonder if ‘Drunk, Driving, and 17’ is based on real life. Well, let’s explore the same, shall we?

True Story Inspiration for Drunk, Driving, and 17

Yes, ‘Drunk, Driving, and 17’ is partially based on a true story. Touted to be inspired by actual events by the makers, the enthralling and dramatic screenplay is the product of the creative minds and brilliant writing skills of Amber Benson and Richard Kletter. They seemingly took inspiration from true stories of drink-and-drive cases. They tried to portray the true-to-life consequences of underage drinking and house party culture, where the parents allow their minor children to drink with their friends under the impression that they are safe drinking at home.

There have been many accidents in real life due to drinking and driving by teenagers, which is why it is necessary to shed more light on this particular subject. For instance, back on New Year’s morning in 1982, there was quite a similar case of a 17-year-old boy named Kevin Tunell who drank and drove and ended up killing 18-year-old Susan Herzog. A month after the tragedy, Kevin was sentenced to court-supervised probation until he turned 21 and his driver’s license was revoked for the time being. He was liable to end up in jail if he violated any of the terms of his probation. This is just one of many such tragic cases that occur pretty regularly all across the globe.

During a conversation in April 2023 on the Russ Parr Morning Show, Michael Michele, who portrays Martha in the Lifetime movie, talked about what attracted her to accept the role and how she could relate to it. She said, “I was going home every single day having the exact same conversation with my own son. I also had a son, 7 years of age, graduating high school and going to all the Senior High School parties. So I said, well, isn’t this how apropos that I am being asked to do a movie that is mimicking my real life?”

Michele added, “These are conversations. I’m having in my home. Every, every weekend, my son is getting ready to graduate high School in a couple of weeks. And so I would come to do a scene with you, and then I would go home and almost verbatim have the same conversation with my own son.” To reiterate, it would be fair to say that the screenplay might not be based on a specific true story but is inspired by many such real-life stories!

Read More: Where Was Lifetime’s Drunk, Driving, and 17 Filmed? Who is in the Cast?