Underage drinking takes place with far more regularity than most parents want to admit. According to some studies, up to 40% of children have experimented with alcohol by the time they are in eighth grade. This means that 40% of children have experimented with alcohol by age 14 or so – well before they get behind the wheel of a car for the first time. Some of these teens will go on to drink on a regular or semi-regular basis. Underage drinking is a menace when it comes to getting the message across about drinking and driving.
The problem with underage drinking and driving is that it can be hidden. Parents often resist the idea that their underage child is drinking – let alone drinking and driving. Children, in turn, will sometimes go to great lengths to hide the fact that they are drinking from their parents – even if it means driving home drunk. Here is what parents must do to address the issue:
1) Bring up underage drinking first. Talking to your kids about drinking is important, because you want to explain why it can be dangerous. Your local police force likely has educational material about alcohol and drug use – they likely have materials you can use when talking to your child.
2) Next, bring up drinking and driving. Once you have had a talk about drinking, choose a separate time to discuss drinking and driving. This ensures that you don’t send a confusing mixed message: “drinking is wrong, but if you do, don’t drive.” Addressing the two separately allows you to address the unique risks of both. Again, your local police department can help provide you with statistics about Florida drunk driving accidents as well as educational materials you can use. Be specific in this talk – some teens think that “just one drink” will not make them unsafe to drive. It is your job that they understand the risks.
3) Create an agreement. Have your children sign an agreement with you, agreeing to call you if they need a safe ride home. Ask your child’s input about the agreement – they may want a promise that you don’t ask questions, for example. Create an agreement that you can both honor.
4) Watch your own mixed signals. If you drive recklessly, you could cause an accident – and you are sending the wrong message. If you don’t want your child to take risks on the road, you have to ensure you don’t, either.
If you or your child have been injured in a Florida car accident, contact the Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation to discuss your case. With offices in Homestead, Miami, and Hollywood, and clients across South Florida, the Flaxman Law Group has the legal experience and trial experience that makes a difference.