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The Dangers of DUI: How to Start the Conversation

  • As a parent of a teen or college-aged child, watching them enter new stages of their life, such as becoming more independent, may result in a mix of emotions. As your child becomes more independent and starts making choices without consulting with your first, they are likely to encounter success and even a few mistakes.


    Even though you have little control over your older child’s life, you can encourage and guide them to make healthy and safe decisions, such as drinking and driving. Discussing with your child about alcohol can be challenging, but here are some tips to help you have an effective chat about an important topic.


    Know Your Facts


    Having an “off the cuff” discussion about a serious topic may not be the best idea, especially if you want it to be effective. Collecting relevant statistics and facts are often more powerful than many of the scare tactics that well-intentioned parents try to use.


    Here are some statistics that may be helpful when planning a discussion with your teen or college-aged child about drinking and driving.


    According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, results from a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reveal that in a 30-day period, 6 percent of surveyed high school students drove after drinking alcohol and 17 percent rode with a driver who was under the influence.


    According to the National Institutes of Health, every year an estimated 1,825 college students, between the ages of 18 and 24, die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries which include car accidents.


    Talk About Real-Life Consequences


    While many high school and college-aged young men and women may drink alcohol on occasion (and is often treated as the “norm” or even a rite of passage), it’s important to talk about the consequences of drinking and driving.


    Not only can an underage drinker face some legal issues if they are pulled over in their vehicle after drinking at a party, but their actions may affect everything from insurance costs to academic scholarships and even employment opportunities.


    It’s crucial to iterate that drinking and driving can have long-term effects on someone’s life, even if there was no injury, accident, or death.


    Have an Open and Honest Discussion


    Finding time to sit down and discuss anything with your teen or college-aged child can be difficult, and when you do get the chance, you might want to take the lead and say everything you need to say before they’re off to class or another activity.


    Important discussions should never be rushed. Create an opportunity to have an open and honest discussion, which means that you let your child express their own concerns and expectations about drinking and driving or drinking in general.


    As you talk about drinking and driving, create a plan with your child about what they should do rather than get behind the wheel after they have been drinking or if they are with someone who has.


    Talk about designating a sober driver, encourage them to use resources on campus, or talk with other parents about being a person that your teen can call after a party. You should also discuss the importance of rideshare to avoid drunk driving and mass transportation options (as long as they are safe).