Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., P.A. Over 50 Years Of Experience

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Do parents accidentally encourage drunk driving?

If you take an aggressive stance against drinking with your teenagers, could you be doing more harm than good?

It may depend upon your approach.

Parents want to keep their children from drinking alcohol while underage. However, studies have shown that three million teenagers in the United States actually count as alcoholics. Many more use alcohol regularly without becoming addicted. For instance, over 50 percent of teens said they had become intoxicated by the time they became high school seniors.

Still, as common as teenage drinking is, parents and authorities naturally still discourage it. While their intentions are good, adult attitudes toward teenage drinking might accidentally encourage drunk driving.

A teenager who drives to a party with friends and then becomes intoxicated may fear getting caught by the police and his or her parents. Many teens also face ramifications at school or on sports teams if they're caught drinking.

As such, that teenager may not want to call anyone else to get a ride home. Doing so absolutely means getting caught for underage drinking.

Rather than calling their parents, teens may take the risk of driving while intoxicated. In the moment, driving drunk may seem "safer" to a teen than turning themselves in for drinking in the first place.

This is why some experts suggest creating a "contract for life" with a teenager. In this contract, the parent says that the teen can call at any time of day or night and ask for a ride home to avoid drunk driving. The parents will not get angry or react at the moment but will wait until later to calm down and talk about the situation. Some parents feel uncomfortable doing this, but it can keep teens from breaking the law and getting into an accident.

If your teen does get arrested for drunk driving, it can have a large impact on their future, so it's important to know all of the legal defense options that are available.

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