Life After A DUI: Preventing A Relapse In Your Teenager

Posted on: 25 June 2015


As the parent of a teenager who has already been charged with DUI, you are right to be concerned. While your DUI lawyer and a counselor can talk to your child about the implications of driving drunk again, he or she has to be the one to make the decision not to do so. Since teenagers, as a rule, tend to feel invincible, it can be very difficult for parents to convey how vital it is to follow the law, as well as the rules of common sense. Here are some tips on getting through to your kids without nagging or having them on complete lockdown.

Define Clear Rules

In the United States, it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. In your own home, it may be legal for your teen to have a glass of wine with dinner, depending on your state. You can choose to introduce your child to alcohol in a legal way, if you so choose. Your adolescent is old enough to understand that there is a difference between enjoying an alcoholic beverage with parents and drinking illegally with friends.

Set clear rules about whether your teens are allowed to drink alcohol and under what circumstances, and expect them to adhere to those rules. It is possible that your teen was drinking illegally the first time he or she got behind the wheel while under the influence. It is good to be realistic while staying firm; you cannot watch your teenager every moment, nor should you. While making a rule is important, it is by no means the only thing you need to do.

Set a Good Example

If you are drinking, arrange for a ride, every time. Let your teen see that there is no shame in arranging for a designated driver, and that it is the responsible thing to do. Also, bring it up into conversation when you are the designated driver for a group outing.

Make a Pact With Other Parents

Reach out to the teens that your teen hangs out with and see if they are amenable to making a deal that they will not allow other people's teens to drink in their homes. When all of the young people are in the same boat with equally concerned parents, they are less likely to feel like "the only one" who is not allowed to drink alcohol. Understand that some of the parents of your teens' friends are not going to allow their child to get into a car with yours again. Do not let this make you feel as though you should not contact them about making a deal to supervise all of the teens better.

Inspect What You Expect

While you should work to redevelop a trusting relationship with your teenager, realize that a lack of impulse control and general naivete can cause your child to do things that he or she knows are not acceptable. If you have doubts about the type of party your teen is attending, don't be afraid to call the host's parents to verify that they are aware of the party and that there will be no alcohol served. When they get home, be waiting for them and hug them, being vigilant for signs that they have been drinking. In other words, expect good behavior and truth-telling from your teenager, but don't rely on it in matters of life or death.

Pick Them Up No Matter What

As your teen gets to the age when he or she is likely to encounter drinking at parties or other outings, it's imperative that they know you are available to pick them up at any hour of the day or night and without questions asked at that time. Teens should feel comfortable calling home for a ride if they have been drinking or if they are with friends who have been drinking. If your son or daughter has a driver's license, make a deal that if he or she calls home for a ride after drinking, they will not lose driving privileges. Let the act of calling for a safe ride home become more important than the fact that they have been drinking in the first place.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Talk openly with your child about the dangers of drinking and driving, along with other sensitive issues. Let your teen know that he or she can come to you with concerns about anything, and that you want to help.

Keep in mind that your adolescent will be an adult before you know it. Right now, you have some control over what your child does and who he or she is spending time with. In a few years, you will not have the privilege or responsibility, so it's important to continue to convey the importance of avoiding driving under the influence now. Don't let your teen's mistake cause you to throw up your hands, but don't forget about it, either. Working together, you can rebuild trust with your teen while keeping him or her safe in the meantime.

If they do happen to have a relapse, however, don't hesitate to reach out to a local professional at a place like