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Prom and graduation season brings teen DUIs

We're coming to the end of Alcohol Awareness Month, which coincides with the start of prom and graduation season. Both events are iconic in teens' lives. However, they're often associated with copious -- and often dangerous -- amounts of drinking. Too often, teens choose to drive when they're in no condition to, sometimes with tragic results.

We see news reports every spring of teens who are permanently injured and killed in drunk driving crashes. There are real statistics to back of that anecdotal evidence. One-third of all teen traffic violations and fatalities occur between April and June.

Parents often feel powerless to prevent their kids from drinking. They may believe that their admonitions go in one ear and out the other. However, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 75 percent of teens say that their parents are the key influencers in their decisions around alcohol. https://www.madd.org/the-solution/power-of-parents/. Parents' own use of alcohol also influences their kids.

Following are some important tips for parents of teens who will be attending prom and/or graduation parties soon:

  • Be clear with your kids that you expect them not to drink and specify the consequences if you find out they've disobeyed you.
  • Talk to parents who are hosting parties your kids will be attending to make sure that they won't be allowing or serving alcohol.
  • Remind your kids about the dangers of alcohol, including alcohol poisoning, increased likelihood of being physically or sexually harmed and the possibility of arrest.
  • If you are hosting a party, don't make alcohol available or allow anyone to bring it in. Parents and other adults can face criminal penalties and civil liability if they provide alcohol to underage kids in their home.

It's wise to ensure that your kids have a safe ride home from their parties, whether it's a limo, an Uber or a parent. They shouldn't be afraid to call you if they're too drunk to drive. However, if your child is arrested for DUI, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance. A DUI can impact your child's college future and even his or her career prospects.

Source: Herald Review, "Graduation and Prom Safety," Jack Muhar, Itasca County Attorney, April 21, 2018