The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. But, that doesn’t mean that your teen won’t find alcohol before that age. In fact, most teens have tried a drink or two by the time they are 17. This means that your teen might drive after having a few drinks, or may get into a car with someone that has been drinking.
It’s a scary thought, but it’s one that doesn’t have to cross your mind if you make sure that your teens are educated about the risks of driving while intoxicated. Here are some ways to prevent your teen from driving after having any amount of alcohol.
Simple Things to Tell Your Teen
- Be there for your child. This one may seem simple and you may think that your kids will come to you with anything, but most teens will not pick up the phone to call mom or dad when they need a ride home. Why?
- Many teens will find it embarrassing to call a parent after they have been drinking (and kids don’t want to get in trouble!). Talk to your teen, tell him or her that you are there for them. Explain that it’s okay to call mom or dad for a ride home - no matter what time it is.
- Explain to your child that you are aware that kids drink. Make sure to also explain that there’s no reason for driving drunk or getting in a car with someone that has been drinking. If your kids know that you do not condone drinking, they may not drink and drive.
- Provide an alternate mode of transportation. Take away the need to drive (or the temptation) by giving your child extra money for a taxi or an Uber if they wind up in a sticky situation.
- Do not drink and drive. Kids learn from watching parents, so if you never drink and drive, your kids won’t either - even if it’s just a glass of wine or a cocktail at dinner.
- Educate. Tell your children what can happen when they drive after drinking. Show them photographs, explain the consequences, let them read news clips. The more that your child knows about the dangers of driving drunk, the less apt they are to drink and drive.
- Make sure that there’s no alcohol available inside of your home. Lock up any alcohol that you have in your house, and try not to let your kids see you drinking at home. If kids can see or have access to alcohol, drinking might become a casual and normal thing to do - and they won’t think twice about driving after having a few drinks.
It’s Your Job
As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your kids are always safe. This includes educating your children and making sure that they do not drive after drinking for any reason!