How to Talk to Your Children about Drinking and Driving

One of the most exciting aspects of being a teenager in Pennsylvania is finally getting a driver’s license. No longer is your teen reliant on you to get them around. They now have more freedom to drive themselves to school and work. However, they may also decide to drive to social functions and parties as well. If these parties will have alcohol, there is a risk of your teen being pressured into drinking — and then driving.

As much as we would like to assure ourselves that our kids would never drink, much less drive drunk, the fact of the matter is that sometimes, things just happen. Being prepared for such a situation, and knowing what to do if your teen is ever in a situation where they may be drinking and driving, can save lives.

1. Set Clear Rules

When your teenager gets their license, set strict ground rules for drinking. A recent study showed that teenagers whose parents set clear expectations and kept up with their comings and goings were four times less likely to engage in risky behavior. It may make you the “uncool” parent, but your teen will be grateful in the long run.

You may also want to consider having a “No Drinking and Driving” contract. While such a contract isn’t exactly legally binding, it does put your teen’s intentions and your rules into writing. This may cause them to pause and consider their actions before getting behind the wheel after drinking.

2. Make Getting Liquor Difficult

While you may not serve your teen alcohol, having it easily available can be just as dangerous — especially when you go out of town. If you are leaving your teen home alone for a few days, be sure to lock up the liquor. Take a photo of your alcohol before you leave so you can compare it to your collection when you get home. If any is missing, it may be time to have a stern talk with your kid.

In addition, make a pact with the parents of your teen’s friends. Most parents say they would never serve alcohol to teenagers, but about a third of teens say they’ve been to a supervised party where they could get a hard drink. Make an agreement with other parents that there won’t be unsupervised parties, and those parties will also serve nothing harder than caffeine.

3. Have Their Back

As hard as you try, there are times when your teen may be in a situation where they are offered a drink — and turning it down would be social suicide. You may remember how hard it was to refuse alcohol in these instances when you were a teenager. Create a code for your teen if they have been drinking and need a way home, one that helps your kid save face with their friends while still having you rescue them. Something as simple as texting “111” to you may do the trick.

If this code is used, make sure it’s a no-questions-asked policy. The next morning, it may be good to sternly review your drinking rules, but if being picked up comes with a punishment, they may be far less likely to call for help next time. However, make sure they know that, if they decide to drink and drive instead of calling for help, they will lose their license or face some other punishment.

While your rules may be strict, the law is even more severe. If your teen has been arrested for underage DUI in Pennsylvania, contact Steven E. Kellis today for a free case evaluation.