While driving under the influence (DUI) carries serious consequences at any age, those under the legal age for alcohol consumption face serious consequences for underage DUI.
California is a zero tolerance state, meaning that any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading over 0.01% can lead a teen driver to penalties, such as jail for up to six months and a considerable amount in fines. Additionally, an underage driver can have their license suspended on top of skyrocketing insurance costs.
What should you tell your teen when they start driving?
Teenage drivers often do not realize the seriousness of DUI and feel invincible behind the wheel. Since teens do not often have the money or nerve to call a cab and may not call a parent for a ride for fear of getting in trouble, underage drivers can be more inclined to get behind the wheel after drinking.
If you’re a parent of a teenage driver, there are a few things you should tell them of once they get their license:
- You are always available to give them or their friends rides if they have been drinking. While it may be difficult to admit that your teen is drinking alcohol, it’s important to be realistic about their alcohol use. Children whose parents believe underage drinking is unacceptable under any circumstances are significantly more likely to drink and drive than other teens. Parents should realize that their teens might drink alcohol and provide them with a safe alternative to drunk driving. When your teen goes out with friends, have your cellphone handy 24/7 in case they need you to be their sober driver.
- California is a zero tolerance state. What applies to drivers over the legal drinking age does not apply to drivers under 21. The low threshold of 0.01% can be reached by having just one drink. Let your teen know that no matter how little alcohol they consume, it’s never okay to drive afterward.
- Criminal penalties are hefty and long-lasting. Let your teen know about the charges that can be applied and how these can carry a lifetime of consequences. For underage drivers, college acceptances and acceptance onto college sport teams can be threatened. Teens may be unable to obtain certain jobs in addition to jail time and fines.
- Stoned driving is still illegal. Even if a driver is taking prescription medication or consuming marijuana, driving under the influence of drugs is punished equally in the eyes of the law.
A lack of drinking experience in combination with unskilled driving makes underage drivers particularly dangerous. If you have a teen driver in your home, it’s important to take the time to talk with them about drunk driving to prevent a serious and potentially deadly mistake from occurring.
At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., we frequently represent teens and young adults charged with underage DUI. If you have questions about how we can help, contact our firm as soon as possible.