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7 Tips for Talking to Your Teen about Drinking and Driving

GuinnessLet’s face it—drinking and driving poses a significant danger to people at any age. But the risks are even more magnified with young, inexperienced drivers. As DUI lawyers, we’ve seen the devastating effects that drinking and driving can cause for teens and their families. They could lose their driving privileges, their ability to get a job, or worst of all, their life.

This is why it is incredibly important to talk to your teen about drinking and driving, even if they don’t have their license yet. We’ve assembled a list of tips to educate your son or daughter about the dangers of drinking and driving.

1. Set a good example.

If you’re not setting an example of responsible drinking behavior, you can’t expect your teen to act responsibly in similar situations. That means never getting behind the wheel after you’ve had a few drinks, even if you think you’re not drunk. Never communicate to your child that alcohol is a good way to handle problems. You could set a lifelong positive impression by calling a cab or an Uber and leaving your car in a parking lot after consuming alcohol.

2. Start early. Talk often.

Having a close and open relationship with your child is a powerful way to reduce risky behaviors. Make it easy for your teen to talk honestly with you by asking open-ended questions, encouraging conversation, and respecting their viewpoint.

3. Draw the line.

Set clear, realistic expectations for your teen’s behavior and follow through with the appropriate consequences when they break those rules. If your child recognizes that there are consequences for their actions, they are much less likely to engage in harmful behaviors like drinking and driving or getting in the car with an intoxicated driver.

4. Develop comebacks with your teen. 

“Just say no” types of lines don’t work when peer pressure is strong. Instead, prepare several “outs” your teen can use to save face and deflect the pressure. For example:

  • “My parents will take away my license.”
  • “I don’t need a ride. My friend is coming to pick me up.”
  • “My mom will never let me out again—she always finds out.”

You can also teach your teen sneaky ways not to drink, such as taking the drink but not sipping it, or taking it to the bathroom to pour down the sink and refill with water.

5. Invent a code. 

Teens often say a big reason they don’t call their parents for help is because they don’t want friends to hear. Instead, create a text code—a word, phrase, or short series of numbers— that both of you agree on to alert you that they need to be picked up. Promise your child that you’ll pick them up with no questions asked.

6. Share the facts.

There are many myths and misinformation abound when it comes to alcohol, and your child may believe they already know everything there is to know on the subject. Ask them about their views on alcohol and what they know, and provide an opportunity for them to ask you questions.

7. Connect with other parents.

Getting to know the parents of your teen’s friends will make it easier to ensure that a responsible adult will keep tabs on your child and that alcohol will not be made available to them. You’re likely to find that other parents are just as concerned about teen alcohol use as you.

It’s never too late to talk to your teen about drinking and driving. For more information on keeping your teen driver safe on the road or DUIs, contact The Farrish Law Firm, L.P.A.


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