Add some warm weather, a tuxedo, a date and a few actual drinks, and your teen could be headed for serious trouble.
Our D.C. DUI lawyers know that as we approach prom season this spring, the opportunity for a serious crash or DUI charge increases significantly.
Given the potentially fatal consequences of driving drunk, many parents whose children are arrested for DUI – though thankfully not seriously hurt – find it incredibly tempting to allow the law to deal with the situation. We certainly understand the concept of making sure your teen understands the consequences of his actions. But what we don’t like to see happen is one youthful indiscretion – even a serious one – color the opportunities available to your child for the rest of his life.
First of all, it’s important to point out that anyone under the age of 21 is going to be held to a different standard of intoxication than an adult. While adults are considered to be impaired when their alcohol level measures 0.08 percent, those under the age of 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system. While some states allow for a 0.02 percent measurement, D.C. is a zero tolerance jurisdiction.
Secondly, teens are inexperienced drivers. The infraction for which he is pulled over may not actually have anything to do with intoxication. It usually has more to do with inexperience.
The maximum jail term would be three months (for a first offense), not to mention fines of up to $1,000 and a six month suspension of a driver’s license.
So far, most parents might seem like this seems fair. But the greater problem is how having a DUI on his license is going to affect your teen into the future. There are many jobs that require some type of personal travel. He or she may be turned down for those positions if there are any prior convictions for DUI – regardless of whether they occurred when he was under 18.
That conviction could also potentially harm his chances of being eligible for certain grants, scholarships or even acceptance into certain schools.
Such a conviction could literally impact the rest of his life. As a parent, you have the authority to mete out the appropriate punishment – one that doesn’t involve a future of missed opportunities.
The good news is that teen drunk driving is actually down by nearly 55 percent since 1991, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October.
However, that same report indicated D.C. teen drivers had higher rates of drunk driving than those in the rest of those in the country, with 9.2 to 11 percent reported having driven drunk in the last year.
As we gear up for prom season, keep the following in mind when you talk to your teen about drunk driving:
- Emphasize that drinking is illegal for anyone under the age of 21, and for good reason;
- Make sure your child knows that not everyone his age is drinking. Teens often tend to overestimate their peers’ consumption of alcohol;
- Discuss your own beliefs about teen drinking and driving, as well as your family’s own rules and consequences for breaking those rules;
- Help your teen think of ways to resist peer pressure to drink.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.