Alcohol-impaired drivers are the biggest threat we face on the roads. On average, 28 people die in the United States every day due to an alcohol-impaired driver. Teenagers that drive while impaired often face tough penalties. Parents, especially fathers, educating their teenagers about the dangers of alcohol is the first line of defense against drunk driving accidents.
Starting the Conversation
Although drunk driving among teenagers has decreased by 54% since 1991, binge drinking is still a major problem among young adults. Binge drinking is when a person consumes four or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting. Although one in seven teens admit to binge drinking, only one in one hundred parents think their teen binge drinks.
The first step is recognizing that there is a possibility that your child consumes alcohol. The next step is to gather information about teenage drinking so that you can educate your child. Sitting them down for an honest conversation is the next step. Prepare to be compassionate, but also firm. This is not the time to sugar-coat things. They need to understand that drinking and driving is a serious offense, one that could be a matter of life and death. You must first arm yourself with knowledge, then present it to them in a way that they can relate to, in a way that they will care about.
Stating the Facts
The consequences of drunk driving can be severe. In 2016, 10,497 people died in drunk driving crashes. If your teenager does decide to drive drunk and is caught, he or she will face penalties that could last a lifetime. The Moorhead Law Group explains that “DUI and DWAI convictions have serious consequences. You risk losing your driver’s license as well as gaining a criminal record, which can affect your ability to get a job or apply for a loan. Most people assume that because this is their first offense, they won’t be punished. However, depending on the amount of alcohol in your system, you can lose your driver’s license for up to nine months and end up in jail, even if it is your first offense.”
Your teenager doesn’t have to be the one driving to be in danger. Thirty percent of teens admit that they have gotten in the car with a drunk driver.
Standard DUI law’s apply to people of any age that have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. This is generally considered a misdemeanor. Most states now have zero-tolerance laws, which make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. Zero tolerance offenses are sometimes considered a misdemeanor, and can include consequences such as fines, jail time, community service, substance abuse classes, or ignition interlocking devices. All underage DUIs lead to a license suspension.
If a teenager receives a misdemeanor, this could impact other areas of their life. College applications and financial aid applications often ask whether a person has been convicted of a crime. Job applications also ask this, in addition to performing background checks. While having a misdemeanor doesn’t necessarily mean it will affect an applicant, it usually doesn’t give a good first impression.
What You Can Do
Parents can play a crucial role in preventing teenage drunk driving by:
- Talking to your teenager
- Setting ground rules (have them sign a driving contract)
- Enforcing the minimum legal drinking age and graduated driver licensing systems in your state
Teenagers only have 13-19 years of life experience. It’s the responsibility of a father to guide his children and set them on the right path. With the proper education of parents and teenagers, the percentage of drunk driving that occurs on a yearly basis could decrease even more.