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Underage Drinking in D.C. Peaks in Summer Months

by | Aug 1, 2013

Many teens seize on their summer breaks as a chance to relax, spend time with friends and maybe even volunteer or earn a few extra dollars working part-time.

However, our D.C. underage drinking defense attorneys also recognize that it’s one of the most common times for young people to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Their curfew might be a bit more lenient and they may be testing some new limits.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, nearly 40 percent admitted to consuming alcohol within the last month. Of those, 22 percent binge drank and 8 percent drove after drinking.

A more recent survey by the Caron Treatment Centers found that 61 percent of American teens identify summer as they time they are most likely to drink. As we are closing in on the last month of the break, we expect teens will try to soak up as many of those experiences as they can.

This kind of activity doesn’t mean your kid is bad or that it has any bearing at all on the kind of person your child will become. But it is nonetheless a risky behavior and it can impact your child’s future in more ways than one.

There is of course the possibility that your child could get a DUI if he or she decides to get behind the wheel. D.C. law has zero tolerance for minors under the age of 21 who are behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. That means that while an adult can generally avoid a DUI charge so long as his or her blood-alcohol level is below 0.08 percent, under-21 drivers who test anything above a 0.00 percent BAC can be arrested for DUI.

A conviction can result in up to 90 days of imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000 and a license suspension of up to six months. There is also the potential for employers, internship providers or colleges to access this information if it isn’t expunged.

These penalties are all significantly increased if your child has other minors in the vehicle, has a blood-alcohol level of higher than 0.15 percent or is involved in an accident that results in injury or property damage.

But even assuming none of that happens – assuming they are never even in a vehicle at the time they are caught drinking alcohol – they will still be facing criminal sanctions. Your child will face a $300 fine, a 90-day license suspension and there is always the possibility of academic consequences if your child’s school finds out. This includes universities.

If your teen has been caught drinking under age, it’s tempting to allow the system to “take care of it” so that they can “learn a lesson.” But the long-term consequences could be more harmful than you think. Hiring a lawyer will help avoid that, allowing you to be the one to teach the lesson.

If underage drinking is something you are concerned about with your teen, Mothers Against Drunk Driving recommends the following actions:

  • Communicate with your teen before a problem begins. Have ongoing discussions about alcohol use now, so you are not speaking out of anger.
  • Let your child know the rules and consequences of breaking those rules. Again, do this before they are in trouble. Make sure the consequences are crystal clear – and then consistently follow through if the rules are broken.
  • Tell them that you care about them. You value their life. You value their future. That’s why you want them to refrain from drinking.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.