While some parents and adults, in general, may choose to turn a blind eye and believe this doesn’t happen in today’s world, the truth of the matter is that it most certainly does.
The statistics do not lie:
- 5,000 kids under the age of 21 die each year because of underage drinking.
- Alcohol is a factor in one-third of all teenage auto fatalities.
- Young drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking.
Ignoring it will not make it go away. Ignoring it can only make it worse.
While the legal age to drink is 21, this does not stop teenagers from experimenting with alcohol starting at a young age. Whether these teens are stealing alcohol from their parents’ liquor cabinets, asking older brothers and sisters purchase it for them, or have acquired fake IDs in order to purchase it themselves, teen drinking is real and in turn, means that teen drinking and driving is out happening as a result. It’s not uncommon. In fact, 28% of teens admit that they have been in a car driven by someone who had been drinking.
Teens are impressionable and tend to think quickly without considering the consequences. But it doesn’t stop at age 18. Young adults in college, even once they have hit the legal drinking age, can still fall victim to imbibing a bit too much and either getting into the car with someone else who has been drinking, or getting behind the wheel themselves.
At South Florida law firm, Wolf & Pravato, we feel that it is part of our job as Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys to keep our community engaged and informed about safety, especially when it comes to our children and drinking and driving.
Educating your children about drinking and driving is of the utmost importance. As a parent, you need to make sure they are aware of the repercussions that can occur if they drive after having a couple of drinks, whether they are of legal age or not. Drill it into their heads that getting behind the wheel while under the influence can result in jail time, losing their license and driving privileges, being denied acceptance to college, or worse, injuring themselves or someone else.
These tips will help you stay ahead of the game when it comes to educating your children about the dangers of drinking and driving:
- It’s never too early to start. It’s very likely that your child might start to experience peer pressure to drink at a very young age, even as young as elementary school. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to begin mentioning things like some of the statistics mentioned above statistics and the dangers of intoxicated driving. You can even share personal stories, if you have any, to show that these are not just things that happen in movies or TV shows; they do happen in real life, to people we know and love.
- Don’t just tell them — show them. Parents are huge role models for their children, even if their kids hate to admit it. Set a good example for your teens when it comes to drinking and driving, and be aware of any of your own missteps. Do not encourage drinking and driving in any way, and always use a designated driver (or be one yourself).
- It’s okay to be the “bad guy.” You need to enforce a set of rules and consequences for drinking and driving, and underage drinking in general. If you catch your teen in a situation where they have been drinking or got behind the wheel while intoxicated, don’t “let them off the hook” and give them another chance to do the same thing again. You never know if something much worse could occur the next time it happens. The thought of a punishment can sometimes be enough to keep them from breaking the rules. Threaten them with coveted activities like attending parties on the weekend or going over to friends’ houses after school, or something much worse — taking away their car or driving privileges. It’s important that your children understand that you are not trying to dictate or control their lives by doing this, you are simply trying to keep them safe.
- Become your child’s support system. Let them know that if they do happen to find themselves out one night and they had a couple drinks, it’s okay to call you without the fear of getting into a lot of trouble. Being there for your teenage children in this kind of situation could certainly save their life, and the lives of others. Give your children the assurance that if the situation arises where they are unable to drive, or if the person who drove is also under the influence, they can rely on your to pick them up, without judgment.
- Be proactive. You don’t need to become a “helicopter parent,” but it is important to know who your teen’s friends are, what kind of activities they are involved in, and where they frequently hang out. It’s also ideal to know the parents of your child’s friends too, and talk to them about their own rules regarding drinking and driving.
Teenagers look to their parents for guidance, and in these incidences where drinking occurs, there are experts that believe that parents should allow their teenage children to have a drink with them occasionally. This makes alcohol seem less of a taboo topic and could lessen the amount in which their overindulge on their own, in more dangerous situations.
Now, once your teenage children have gone off to college and are no longer under your watchful eye, things can get a bit muddled. The parties, the dorm life, the bars that don’t ID… It’s a haven for binge drinking. Drinking in college is inevitable, as it becomes part of the social norm.
Many colleges and universities like the University of Florida are doing their part to prevent students from binge drinking and drinking and driving.
Boston University requires all freshmen students to take an alcohol prevention program and imparts their own disciplinary consequences for things like fake IDs and older students purchasing alcohol for younger students.
Some schools, such as North Dakota State University, has a completely dry campus and does not allow any alcohol on the premises, regardless of age. Other schools choose to target specific groups and rituals, i.e., Indiana University banned hard liquor at fraternity parties, Stanford University has banned it at all undergraduate parties, and University of Michigan has student volunteers who help monitor banned or unsafe behaviors at these parties.
If you would like more information regarding the laws about underage drinking, DUIs, and drinking and driving in general, our Florida personal injury law firm is available to listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have. We believe that education is the key to safety.
Call our personal injury law firm in Fort Lauderdale today to schedule an appointment.