There are a lot of conversations with teens that parents really want to ‘put off until tomorrow.’ Talking to your child about topics like relationships, online bullying, or teen drinking and driving can seem like something that can wait for another day, but the problem in waiting is that sometimes you miss your chance to make an impact with your message.
Teen drinking and driving has never had a higher profile than it does right now, all because a few young people have become poster children for how dangerous it is when they drink and how badly things can go wrong.
If you want to talk to your teen about drinking and driving and you aren’t sure where to start, here are two recent young people in the news that might help you with your opener.
The ‘affluenza’ teen
Ethan Couch was only 16 when he drove drunk and crashed into a group of people on a Fort Worth, Texas highway and killed 4 of them. His case made news because of the ‘affluenza’ defense his lawyer used, meaning he was too rich to understand the consequences of his actions.
Instead of jail time, he received 10 years probation and an instruction not to touch alcohol. When he broke probation in 2015, he fled to Mexico with his mother. When they were caught he was brought back to the USA and will now face an adult court.
The message you can share with your teen from this case: it’s a choice to drink and drive, and not only can innocent people die, young lives can be forever changed because you make that choice.
The ‘Periscope’ girl
When one young woman in Lakeland, Florida decided to jump on social media and live stream her drunk drive home, people sat up and paid attention. It’s not every often someone decides to break the law and broadcast it live, but that’s exactly what she did.
When police arrested her she was thrown in jail, but she’s probably feeling thankful right now that she won’t be spending more time in jail. Instead of a stint behind bars she was sentenced to 12 months probation, 10 days in weekend work release, 150 hours of community service, and a six month driver’s license suspension.
That was just her punishment from the police, and it pales in comparison to the public ridicule she endured because she chose to put herself up on a public platform and show the world she drove drunk. What can you share from this case with your teen? Driving drunk, whether you’re by yourself or with friends, is a really bad decision that ends in serious consequences. You can’t write it off as something funny to do on your way home, and you definitely shouldn’t share it online.
Talking to your teen about drunk driving can be awkward, it can be uncomfortable, and you might worry that if you talk to them about it you open the door to them actually getting behind the wheel drunk, but if you have to have one or more uncomfortable conversations about drunk driving to save your teen from making a huge mistake, it would be worth it.