How Can Parents Help Prevent Underage DUIs?


As criminal defense attorneys at Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer, & Staggs (JJWLS), we often see the devastating impact of underage DUIs on both young individuals and their families. The legal, financial, and emotional repercussions of a DUI conviction can be profound and long-lasting.

Preventing these situations is critical, and parents play a pivotal role in guiding their children away from such risky behaviors. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss various strategies and approaches parents can take to help prevent underage DUIs.

Understanding the Risks and Consequences of an Underage DUI

Before diving into prevention strategies, it is important for parents to understand the risks and consequences associated with underage drinking and driving. Underage drivers who consume alcohol are at a higher risk of being involved in traffic accidents, which can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Additionally, a DUI conviction can lead to severe legal consequences, such as jail time, mandatory alcohol education programs, license suspension, and fines. Beyond the legal ramifications, a DUI can also have long-term effects on a young person’s education, career prospects, and personal relationships.

Open and Honest Communication

One of the most effective ways parents can help prevent underage DUIs is through open and honest communication with their children. Start by having frank discussions about the dangers of drinking and driving. Explain the legal consequences and the potential for accidents, injuries, or fatalities.

Emphasize that the legal drinking age is set for a reason and that consuming alcohol before reaching this age is not only illegal but also dangerous.

Encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns. Listen to them without judgment and provide clear, factual information. By creating an open dialogue, you build trust and make it more likely that your child will come to you if they find themselves in a difficult situation.

Set Clear Expectations and Rules

Setting clear expectations and rules regarding alcohol consumption and driving is crucial. Make sure your children understand that underage drinking is not acceptable and that driving under the influence is absolutely prohibited. Clearly outline the consequences for breaking these rules, and be consistent in enforcing them.

It is also helpful to establish a family policy on alcohol. For example, you might decide that there will be no alcohol in the home until all children are of legal drinking age. By setting these boundaries, you create a safe and supportive environment that discourages underage drinking.

Lead by Example

Parents are powerful role models for their children. Your behavior and attitudes toward alcohol can significantly influence your child’s actions. Model responsible drinking habits, such as never driving after consuming alcohol and always drinking in moderation. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly and in a way that demonstrates the importance of making safe choices.

Educate About Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a major factor in underage drinking and driving. Help your children develop strategies to resist peer pressure and make independent, responsible decisions. Discuss scenarios they might encounter and role-play responses to different situations. Empower them to say no and to stand up for their beliefs.

Let your children know that it is okay to call you for help if they ever find themselves in a situation where they have been drinking or are with someone who has been drinking. Assure them that their safety is your top priority and that they can always count on you for support without fear of immediate punishment.

Image is of three underage teens partying and drinking, concept of underage DUI

Provide Safe Alternatives

Offering safe alternatives can help prevent your children from feeling the need to drink and drive. Encourage them to participate in alcohol-free activities and provide transportation options if they need a ride. Promote the use of ride-sharing services or designate a sober driver when they go out with friends.

Monitor and Supervise

While it is important to trust your children, it is also essential to monitor their activities and behavior. Know where they are going, who they are with, and what they are doing. Set curfews and check in with them regularly. Being involved in your child’s life helps you stay informed and aware of potential risks.

Stay Informed About the Law

Understanding the specific laws and penalties related to underage drinking and driving in South Carolina can help you communicate the seriousness of these issues to your children. In South Carolina, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher.

Violations can result in license suspension, fines, and mandatory participation in alcohol education programs. By staying informed about the law, you can provide accurate information to your children and help them understand the potential legal consequences of their actions.

If Your Teen Has Been Charged With an Underage DUI, Call Our Office Today

At Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer, & Staggs (JJWLS), we are dedicated to helping families navigate the complexities of underage drinking and driving. By taking proactive steps, parents can play a crucial role in preventing underage DUIs and protecting their children’s futures.

Through open communication, setting clear expectations, modeling responsible behavior, and providing support and resources, you can help your child make safe and responsible choices.

If you find yourself facing a legal situation involving an underage DUI, do not hesitate to contact us at (803) 649-5338 for experienced and compassionate legal representation. Our team of skilled attorneys is here to help you understand your options and work toward the best possible outcome for your family.

Visit our website or call us today to schedule a consultation. By working together, we can create safer communities and brighter futures for our children.