Getting a driver’s license is a thrilling milestone for teenagers. It’s also a risky time for their safety. Teen drivers aged 16-19 are the most at-risk for getting into accidents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Underage drinking and driving compounds the problem, creating a deadly recipe. Illinois law takes a zero tolerance stance toward underage DUI. Any amount of alcohol in a teen’s system, or any illegal substance or evidence of impairment, can result in criminal charges. A conviction for underage DUI can overshadow a teen’s education and career prospects.
What steps can parents take to protect their teen drivers?
As a parent, there are steps you can take to prevent your child from getting into trouble behind the wheel – and into trouble with the law.
- Set a curfew. Many teen driving accidents happen after dark, which is also when drinking and partying occurs. Set a reasonable curfew on both weeknights and weekends to make sure your teen driver gets home safe.
- Educate them. Inform your teenager about the risks of underage drinking, especially underage DUI. Let them know that getting behind the wheel after drinking is taking their own life in their hands, posing an unacceptable risk to themselves, their passengers and others on the road.
- Ask for details. When your teen goes out, find out where they’re going, who will be there, who will be driving and who will be riding with them.
- Teach them about peer pressure. Talk with your teen about what they might encounter when it comes to peer pressure for underage drinking. Coach them on how to stand firm.
- Never serve alcohol to those who are underage. Many teens who acquire alcohol get it through a parent or adult. Supplying a minor with alcohol can be a crime. Even if you know that your own teen won’t be driving, you don’t know if other teens who are consuming alcohol might get behind the wheel. Take a zero tolerance policy as a parent to protect your kids as well as their friends.
By taking these steps, parents can help keep their teen drivers – and others on the road – safe from needless and tragic DUI-related accidents and criminal charges.