Drinking and driving comes with a laundry list of consequences, from DUIs to far worse. Teens are susceptible to drinking and driving for a variety of reasons. They may attend house parties where substances are available, yet try to get home before curfew. Rarely do they establish sober driver policies, and instead many try to pack cars full of eager partiers with a just-as-eager partier at the helm. Parents should try these tips to stop their teens from drinking and driving.
Communication is the key. Parents should always set strict guidelines in regards to all aspects of driving, especially drinking and driving. Being strict may not win you any popularity contests, but it will keep your teen out of trouble and possibly save his or her life. Being strict by committee tends to help. Establish a pact between you and the parents of your teen’s friends that no one will allow drinking at their household. This creates a community response and improves supervision.
Exhaust all of your options. Sometimes a teen is looking for an excuse to escape peer pressure and avoid taking illicit substances. For example, you can come up with a contract explaining the repercussions of drinking and driving. If they drink, they may be grounded for a day. If they drink and drive, they can face severe punishment, including losing their license for an entire year. This will make them think twice. You should also set up a system for them to call for a ride in case of an emergency.
The easiest source for alcohol is usually in the home. Parents are encouraged to keep their alcohol under lock and key. Prevent older siblings from supplying the young ones. Mark the vodka bottles and make sure that they are not diluted.
On special occasions such as dances, create a safe rides program. Know where your teen will be after the dance, and work in conjunction with the other parents to ensure that everyone is safe. Often, other teens or older siblings will volunteer to help out. Hiring a limo service may even be an option to keep things fun and safe.
“The talk” is difficult for parents and teens alike. Teens may feel embarrassed or defensive about their habits, and parents try not to come off as the bad guys. However, talking things out does not make you the bad guy. It makes you a concerned parent that cares deeply for their teenager. Teach them that they have options. “Just say no” may work as well for them as “my dad will take away my car” will on their friends.
Let your teenagers know that you will be up and waiting for their arrival with a big hug to smell for alcohol. They do not want to disappoint you. Be unrelenting. One talk is never enough—“the talk” should actually be more like “the weekly update.” Make sure that they understand the severe penalties associated with DUIs and the risks they pose while drinking and driving. At Hagen Law, we do everything we can to keep teen drivers safe!