Letting your teen drive independently is the first step toward freedom and adulthood. But not all kids understand the responsibility that comes along with the privilege. They may get into trouble due to reckless driving. A DUI charge is even worse because it leads to dire legal implications that may affect your teen’s future. As a parent, your first reaction is likely a combination of anger, shock, anxiety, and fear. You will encounter several unanswered questions related to the legal penalties and future implications.
However, it is not the right time to become a harsh disciplinarian or let your emotions take over. Your teen’s welfare should be the top priority when they face DUI charges. The child is probably equally uncomfortable as emotions like guilt, regret, and self-judgment take over. The situation may imply that your kid is dealing with a mental health condition instead of being irresponsible. The best you can do as a parent is to provide support to help the teen navigate the legal and psychological ramifications of the situation. Here are some parental tips to deal with teen DUI charges.
Understand the possible consequences
DUI is a serious offense with dire consequences, and things get even harder when a teen driver is involved. The legal consequences of DUI vary depending on the state, so you must understand the possibilities your kid may have to face after a conviction. These may include the following-
- Suspension or revocation of license
- Paying fines
- Penalties for traffic violations
- Mandatory attendance at alcohol/drug awareness and driving safety classes
- Community service hours
- Jail time
The child may also face related charges such as possessing or using a fake ID, possession of alcohol by a minor, and solicitation of alcohol. A DUI conviction can have a long-term impact on the teen’s education as they may limit their eligibility for scholarships or academic grants. They miss out on college admissions, extracurricular activities such as teen sports, and employment opportunities.
Seek legal assistance
A DUI conviction can have far-reaching implications beyond the criminal charges. They may affect the education, career, and future of your kid. You cannot afford to leave things to chance when your teen faces these charges. Getting DUI lawyer assistance sooner than later is the most prudent decision. A lawyer ensures a robust defense to limit the impact of the charges as far as possible. Remember that you should never handle them alone, but get an expert to help your child.
Talk to your teen
Besides getting legal aid for your teen, you must have an honest conversation with them. The child may be dealing with negative emotions, and you should not let them suffer alone. An angry and judgemental parent is the last thing they need to deal with while facing the legal implications of DUI. Offer a safe space where they can speak honestly about the circumstances leading to the charges. Encourage them to talk about their emotions before the incident and also their current feelings. Let the child know that you are there for them unconditionally.
A teen DUI is a grave matter, and it can hurt the trust you have in your child. You will probably feel that letting them drive again is risky as they may get into trouble or even have an accident. But it does not mean the end of trust in your relationship with the kid. Likewise, the kid needs to trust you and reach out without apprehension if they get into a risky situation again. Rebuilding trust in the parent-child relationship is crucial. The best way to do it is by creating an agreement for honest and open communication from both sides.
Focus on the child’s mental health
Besides the criminal implications of an underage DUI, your child’s mental health should be a priority. Get them a screening with a mental health professional for a possible diagnosis. You may find that your child suffers from substance abuse or mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. The diagnosis can help you define a path forward and save your teen from long-term problems. Research options such as outpatient treatment, weekly therapy, and residential treatment, depending on the severity of the condition.
Parents have to deal with a lot when their teen faces DUI charges. Think beyond the legal defense because your kid needs emotional support during a tough time. You must play your role as a parent on all fronts. Also, focus on self-care as the situation is equally painful for you.