Teenagers receiving Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges are not as uncommon as we think. Many parents across the United States have had to deal with a teenage DUI, and national statistics suggest that 25 percent of all vehicle crashes involve a drunk driver who is underage. In 2014, the Center for Disease Control reported that 17 percent of licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 who were involved in a fatal vehicle accident had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.
What You Should Do if Your Teen is Charged with DUI
So, what should parents do if their teen is arrested and charged with DUI?
Contact an Attorney: There can be many serious repercussions for teenagers, especially if their drinking and driving caused any property damage, injuries, or deaths. Therefore, it’s very important that parents contact a qualified DUI attorney to represent their teen in court. This is even more important in states like California that practice a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drivers who are caught drinking and driving.
Discuss the Incident with the Teen: It’s crucial that parents get the teen’s side of the story. Since this will obviously be a scary time in the young adult’s life, parents should discuss the events that led up to the DUI arrest in a calm manner. Make sure to find out important information, such as who the teen was with, how much he or she had to drink, and what happened during the traffic stop and arrest. This information could be important for the attorney to use in the teen’s defense.
Discuss the Immediate and Long-Term Consequences: Depending on the circumstances and outcome of the case, there could be legal consequences for the teen’s drinking and driving, but there should also be some immediate consequences coming from the teen’s parents. Make sure to discuss all the repercussions, both handled in home and in court, in a matter-of-fact manner. Discussing the legal consequences may be best led by the teen’s attorney.
Be Prepared for Consequences: Discussing the repercussions of a teen being convicted of DUI is one thing, but parents making sure they and their teen are prepared to deal with those consequences is another. Understand that if the teen is convicted, he or she will have a criminal record, may be kicked off sports teams or out of clubs, and the conviction may affect college admissions and other applications. An attorney can better explain these ramifications as well.
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