The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Unfortunately, many teens get access to alcohol at a much earlier age. Let us look at some alarming statistics:
- A 2017 study revealed almost 61% of teens admitted to binge drinking
- A research conducted in 2016 showed that 38% of students admitted to binge drinking while in college
- Teens drink and drive as much as 2.4 million times each month
- About 10% of teenagers in high school will drink and drive
- About 85% of teens in high school will binge drink
While courts often mandate an ignition interlock device (IID) for DUI offenders, a growing number of parents embrace interlock installation to ensure their minor loved ones are always sober when behind the wheel.
What is DUI?
Driving under the influence is a legal citation given to someone caught driving under the influence of a mind-altering substance such as alcohol. The ramifications of driving under the influence are grave, and those convicted will face serious legal consequences.
What happens if your teen gets a DUI?
Typically, DUIs are issued when an accident has taken place or during traffic stops. When underage drivers are pulled over, and the police suspect they are driving under the influence, they will undergo a blood alcohol content (BAC) breath test. If alcohol is detected, they will be taken into custody, and the vehicle will be towed.
Most states have zero-tolerance laws for DUI and will slap hefty penalties on teenagers under 21 years of age who drive with alcohol in their bloodstream.
What are the legal repercussions of underage DUI?
There are several legal penalties for teens who drive under the influence, including:
- Loss of driver’s license (mostly for an entire year)
- Community service
- Mandatory alcohol education
- Jail time
What can you do to help ensure your teenagers will not drink and drive?
Set clear rules
A study of over 1,000 teens revealed that those with “hands-on” parents are four times less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking and driving. At all times, be very clear that they are not allowed to drink any alcohol if they plan to drive. Ensure they are aware that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive when under the influence.
Layout all the unpleasant consequences of driving drunk, including jail time, losing their license, being denied college acceptance, or worst, being involved in a fatal car crash. Set rules and expectations clearly and be strict without feeling guilty.
Equip your teens to handle peer pressure
Most teenage drinking occurs because of peer pressure. Sit down with your teens and talk about possible scenarios they’ll encounter that will involve alcohol. Give guidance on what they need to do if they were offered a drink at a party.
Also, remind them to always turn down rides from friends who have been drinking. Reassure your teens they can always call on you if they need a ride.
Set a good example
Ensure you practice what you preach. Don’t drink excessively, especially when your teenage children are around. Refrain from making jokes about drinking as well so they won’t think alcohol use is glamorous or funny. Avoid implying alcohol can solve any of your problems by saying you need a drink after a long day.
Get to know the people they hang out with
It would be a good idea to help your teens establish friendships with those who don’t drink. If you notice they’re hanging out with friends who are known to use alcohol, limit their time together. Also, implement strict rules on how they’ll spend after school time and the people they’ll spend it with.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your teenagers can still end up driving while under the influence. In line with this, make sure you know what the legal consequences are. Better yet, consider interlock installation for your peace of mind.