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Parenting by example: prevent your teen from getting a dwi

Author: Karla M. Somers
Published: Oct 7 2012

Parenting a child who has a driver's license can be challenging. Parents need to rise to this challenge, however, because teenagers are vulnerable to experimenting with alcohol and driving while intoxicated, both of which can have serious legal and social consequences. In order to protect their almost-adult children from hurting themselves or others, parents can use a number of strategies to discourage drinking and driving.

Don't Drive If You've Had Anything to Drink

Most adults have a higher tolerance to alcohol than their teens; for this reason, it's common for a parent to get behind the wheel after having had one beer or one glass of wine. However, if you have an impressionable teen, you should refrain from this behavior.

Teens may not be aware that your tolerance rises as you become more used to consuming alcohol, or that your body weight and composition may cause alcohol to affect you differently than it does them. For this reason, they do not see a difference between you after drinking one beer and themselves after drinking one beer. If you tell them not to drink and drive but do it yourself, they will quickly label your behavior as hypocritical and ignore your opinion on this matter.

So, even if you have only had one drink, and you know it is safe to drive, have your spouse drive after you have indulged in alcohol when your kids are around. You can also model waiting a longer period of time before driving after drinking alcohol. For example, you might tell your kids, "We can't leave for another hour because I want to make sure the alcohol is out of my system."

According to Evan M. Levow, our New Jersey dwi lawyer, alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream and passes through the heart, lungs, and brain. When alcohol passes through your brain, this causes the impairment associated with drunk driving. The amount of time it takes for alcohol to be "out of your system" varies depending on how much you have consumed, your body weight, and the time frame in which you drank.

Talking to Your Kids About DWI

In addition to modeling proper behavior, you'll want to talk with your kids honestly about DWI. When you have this conversation, be careful to avoid lectures or fear mongering. If your children think you are unreasonably anxious or don't feel like full participants in the conversation, they will tune you out.

In order to avoid this, make the conversation as natural as possible. Do not start discussing DWI out of the blue or ask your kids if they know that drinking and driving is dangerous. Instead, sit your kids down as soon as possible after they get their driver's license. Tell them that you want to discuss the ground rules for being allowed to use the family car. Let them know that being a responsible driver means never getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

During the conversation, do as much listening as talking so that you can avoid the appearance of a lecture. Allow your children to bring up their concerns, to react to your rules and to suggest rules of their own. The conversation should be two-way rather than you just setting rules; the emphasis should be on "what rules can we come up with that work for everybody?"

It is not easy to broach the subject of DWI because you want your children to feel that you trust them. However, it is important to have this conversation for their safety and your peace of mind. If you use good communication techniques, set rules together, and enforce consequences, if those rules are not followed, your children will most likely respect you, be safe drivers and make good decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.

Karla M. Somers is a writer and a parent who is concerned with children's safety. She is a contributing author to the Law Offices of Evan M. Levow, a New Jersey dwi lawyer who has been helping people understand their DWI charges since 1991. If you find yourself or a family member being charged with a DWI, Mr. Levow can explain all of your legal rights, your options, and how the entire judicial process works.

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