When it comes to teen drunk driving, parents face something of a dilemma.
What can they do to make teens less likely to drink and drive without actually putting more pressure on them?
For many parents, the solution they choose is to tell teenagers they cannot drink at all. That's the law. That's what they pick for a family rule. If they're ever caught drinking, the parents assure the teens that they will face serious consequences.
What parents hope when they do this is that it will deter the teen from drinking and driving by forcing them to turn down drinks at parties or when offered by their peers. Even if they spend time with friends, they'll be sober when it's time to go home.
What actually happens is that many teenagers just resolve not to get caught. That's where the ramifications begin. A drunk teen may know that they should call their parents for a ride home, but they'll take a risk and drive because they don't want their parents to know they were drinking at all. This tactic can accidentally put more pressure on teens to drink and drive.
Another tactic that parents use is to simply stress the driving side of the equation. They do tell their teens to follow the law and not drink until they are 21. However, they tell them that if they do end up drinking -- teen drinking does happen, illegal or otherwise -- that they can then call their parents for a ride.
The hope is that this will keep them safe and alive and off of the roads. Parents can then deal with the drinking issues at a later date.
There are two problems with this. First, if the teens know there will still be ramifications for underage drinking, even if their parents told them to call for a ride, they won't do it. They will attempt to drive themselves home so that they can hide the drinking.
If there are no ramifications for underage drinking, then parents feel like they are enabling their teens to break the law. They don't want a situation where the teen feels like drinking is accepted in their family as long as they don't drive, forcing the parents to drive around picking them up from parties every weekend.
The reason that teen drunk driving is such a common issue is that it's a complicated thing for parents to stop. It is going to continue happening. Those who get injured in accidents caused by young, intoxicated drivers, need to know what legal options they have. The same goes for those who lose loved ones in these accidents.