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No one could ever state enough how deadly drinking and driving is.
Every year from 2009 to 2018, drunk-driving crashes have claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people on average.
If you’re a parent with a teen who just got a learner’s permit to drive, those figures are more than enough to send chills down your spine.
In all likelihood, you had brushes with alcohol yourself during your teenage years. You know how the specter of alcohol consumption can figure in the lives of teens. Some give in to peer pressure, while some let their curiosity get the better of them. Either way, underage drinking has become a serious public health problem in the United States.
Your teen, however, doesn’t have to become a drunk driving statistic. From proactive parenting to voluntary instant interlock installation, here are some things you can do to prevent your teen from becoming another drunk driver.
Be More Involved As A Parent
The best way to prevent teen drunk driving is to prevent underage drinking. Proactive parenting can play a huge role in reducing the risk of teens consuming alcohol. Some of the things you can do as a more involved parent include:
- Prohibiting Drinking Under Any Circumstances—Let your teen know that they are not allowed to drink no matter the situation. The law prohibits those under 21 from consuming alcohol, and there are consequences for violating that law. You can also impose penalties at home, like grounding them or taking away their car keys if you catch them drinking.
- Informing Them About Underage DUI—Teenagers should also be aware that there is such a thing as underage DUI. With zero-tolerance laws in place in all states, drivers under the age of 21 caught with the slightest amount of alcohol in their system will face arrest and underage DUI charges. Unless they have an experienced DUI attorney defending them in court, the likelihood of conviction is high. Being declared a DUI offender comes with short-term and lifelong consequences, including possible jail time, hefty fines, and ignition interlock device installation.
- Active Monitoring—Your kids will see how serious you are about teen drinking if you do things like waiting for them to come home after a party or a gathering to determine whether they’ve had a drink or not. If you want to be discreet about it, you can resort to simple gestures like hugging, kissing, looking into their eyes, or engaging in small talk to check for evidence of alcohol consumption.
- Encouraging Them To Befriend Non-Drinkers—Who your teens become friends with is never up to you, but you should at least make it clear to them that you want their friends to be non-drinkers, too. Try your best to know who your teen’s friends are. If you find out that there’s a known drinker in his or her circle, limit the time they spend with them by setting up strict rules about after school hours.
Become Their Role Model
Any rule about drinking you impose on your teen will fly out the window if they see beer packs in the fridge or a fully-stocked liquor cabinet at home. Even worse would be them seeing you drunk, whether at home or some other place.
If you want your teen to take all your rules and advice about underage drinking seriously, you must set an example for them to follow. Make your home a no-alcohol zone, and never drink or appear drunk in front of your teen.
Voluntary IID Installation
You can also consider more serious measures, like installing an ignition interlock device or IID, to be sure there’s no chance for your teen to be drunk while behind the wheel.
A breathalyzer wired to a car’s engine, an IID will require your teen to blow into the device every time he or she starts the car. The car engine will come to life if the IID finds no trace of alcohol in your teen’s breath. If your teen had a drink, you can expect the device to make sure that the engine will not start.
Preventing underage drinking and driving requires the utmost effort on your part. Take the tips above to heart and keep your loved ones safe from the dangers of drunk driving.
If your teen or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, call our office at (561) 671-5995 and we'll do our best to help you during this unfortunate time. You can also learn more about Palm Beach County's DUI Diversion Program by clicking here.