Every parent dreads the day when their teenage child is old enough to learn how to drive. Teaching your child the rules of the road and how to safely operate a motor vehicle are common topics. Yet, do you remember to teach your teenager about the dangers of driving under the influence?

The Dangers of Impaired Driving

Every year there are over 15,000 car accident fatalities in which the use of illicit drugs or alcohol played a role. Many parents feel because their teen is under legal drinking age this isn’t something that should come up. Yet, we all know that teenagers are more than capable of getting their hands on alcohol and drugs.

We need to educate our children on how dangerous driving under the influence is. It doesn’t matter if they are driving or not, they could be a passenger in which the driver is impaired.

Learning the Rules of the Road

Learning the rules of the road in the state you live in is important when first learning how to drive. Teach your children that should they decide to drive impaired it will follow them their entire life. Not only could they get in a horrible accident, killing or maiming another person or themself. They quite possibly will end up doing time in prison; a DWI or DUI conviction will haunt them for the rest of their life. Possibly even ruining their chance of getting accepted into a good college. In 2018, 32.52% of respondents ages 18-29 admitted in the past 3 months to drinking whiskey/bourbon/scotch. Most teenagers like drinking an alcoholic smoothie; a cool, fruity drink in the summertime.

Severe Penalties and Consequences Imposed

Teenagers should know if they injure or kill someone because they were driving under the influence there are severe consequences. Their actions could not only change their life but the lives of the person they hurt. The consequences are not all legal ones. It is imperative you get through to your newly-licensed teen the severity of the consequences.

Not only could they do jail time, but they can also lose their driver’s license for a certain period of time. In some states, minor DWI cases have their license revoked for a certain period of time.

Underage DWI carries similar penalties as other zero-tolerance offenses. In the state of California, for example, if the driver is 18-21 years of age the following consequences may be imposed:

  • Up to one-year license suspension
  • Fees and fines over $1,000
  • Possible time in jail
  • Mandatory probation and DUI school

If the child is under 18 and charged with DUI they lose their license to drive, receive heavy fines/fees, and mandatory alcohol school. In some cases, a child has been sentenced to incarceration for even a first offense.

Make Yourself Available

Let your teenager know that no matter what you will pick them up. Day or night, if they find themselves in a situation where drinking is involved they can call you, no questions. In addition, you need to resist the urge to ask questions later. If you do, next time they won’t feel like calling you in an attempt at avoiding the interrogation.

Lead by Example

Finally, the best way to instill the importance of not driving impaired is to lead by example. If your teenager sees you avoid driving after drinks (or riding with an impaired driver) they won’t either. If you go out, leave your keys behind (let your kids witness this). Remember, simple and gross are the two main degrees of negligence.