Few things strike more fear into the heart of a parent than their teenager being involved in an alcohol-related car accident. When your teen starts driving, they can feel a newfound sense of independence that can lead them into trouble. Though the laws in the USA have set the legal drinking age at 21, many of them have their first drink long before then. Parties in high school or during the first years of college often encourage underage drinking and, worse, getting behind the wheel.
Even the smartest kids can make stupid decisions occasionally. Teenage drunk driving has scary consequences no matter where you live. In Florida, for example, if your teen is charged with a DUI, it can lead to jail time and license suspensions.
With your kid's future at stake, it’s easy to see why having “the talk” with them sooner rather than later is necessary. By following a few practical suggestions, you can prepare your teen for the road ahead.Alcohol is the most widely used substance among America’s teens, posing substantial health and safety risks. Here's how to talk with your teen about drinking and driving!Click To Tweet
TEENAGE DRINKING PARENTING ADVICE
Start The Drinking/Driving Convo Before They Can Drive
The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says that nearly 11,000 Americans will die this year from drunk driving crashes. That’s almost one every 50 minutes. Additionally, it’s estimated that one person is injured from a drunk driving-related crash every sixty seconds.
With statistics as rampant as they are in the United States, there’s no need to wait until your teen is driving to start a conversation about alcohol use and abuse.
When your child enters high school, start talking about the potential of getting in a car with a driver who has been drinking. Discuss ideas on how they can deal with it, and also talk about peer pressure, and what they can do to avoid those who are drinking before the legal age.
By setting standards early, you’re more likely to lay the groundwork for your teen not going down the wrong path.
Educate Yourself On The Laws Regarding Teenager Drinking and Driving
Underage drinking and driving statutes, as well as practices, vary by state. So, you need to familiarize yourself with your state's laws regarding underage DUI charges as well as alcohol-related car accidents.
For example, “the state of Florida breaks DUI vehicular accidents into three levels of severity: injury, serious bodily injury and, when death is involved, manslaughter. A conviction for DUI-related serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. DUI/manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida, carrying with it a fine of up to $10,000 and 15 years in jail.”
With statutes like this, it's always best practice to be safe than sorry and know your laws ahead of time.
And, if law enforcement didn't stick to protocol, you may be able to get some assistance from a DUI attorney. An accident lawyer can also bring in some useful insights and deliver the right counsel.
Show Your Teenager Support
Though the drinking talk is hard, it’s a discussion you must have. It's important that your child feel that they can come to you without judgment or fear of punishment.
Let your teen know that you will always come and get them or send a taxi with no questions asked. Underline that their safety is more important to you than punishing them.
Obviously, you might have to talk about driving privileges should this happen. Letting your teenager know that the door is always open helps them ask for your help when they need it.
Lead by Example
If you truly want to impact your child’s behavior, you must lead by example. Make a point of not drinking any alcohol if you are out for dinner and it’s your turn to drive.
Starting this at an early age will teach your child that this is the right thing to do. Explain to your teen that even one drink can impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Set a standard for your family and follow it.