Underage drinking is a serious health problem for teens. What's more, climbing behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol or using drugs increases the chances your teen will crash. Show your teen the grim stats. Teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash. In 2014, 621 people died in crashes in which teen drivers had alcohol in their system. Even though the minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21, our numbers show that among 15- to 19-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 20 percent of the drivers had been drinking. Drugs other than alcohol – illicit as well as prescribed and over-the-counter – can affect your teen’s driving, so be sure you and your teen talk about driving and drug use, too.
What Can You Do:
- Tell your teen that underage drinking and non-prescription drug use is illegal and can ruin lives. Together read about some teenagers who've been affected by alcohol or drugs and particularly those who have lost their lives to impaired driving. Teens can often relate better to other teenagers.
- Never provide alcohol to teens. Do your part to prevent your teen from having access to alcohol. Unfortunately, some parents think it's OK to provide alcohol for teens. Don't do it—it’s illegal. Parents who supply alcohol to any teen—or help any minor possess or consume alcohol—face jail time, loss of a driver's license, and serious fines.
- Tell your teen that drugged driving is dangerous, too. The use of drugs can affect their ability to drive a vehicle safely. This includes illegal drugs and even some drugs prescribed by a doctor.
- Make the consequences clear. Remind your teens that they face adult consequences for driving impaired after using alcohol or drugs. Make sure your teens know that if they violate underage drinking laws, they face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver licenses, and dozens of unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines. Remind them of the added embarrassment and humiliation. Impaired-driving convictions can even compromise academic eligibility, college acceptance, scholarship awards, and more.
Underage drinking and illegal drug use is just not worth it.