Teen Drinking and Driving: A Dangerous Activity to Start, but with Legal Implications Later in Life

Some might say that teen drinking is an inevitable part of growing up; a literal rite of passage. However, the State of New Jersey has other thoughts regarding underage drinking, not to mention underage DWI. If parents have a difficult time trying to get their children to follow the law in this regard, perhaps it might be a good idea to explain that underage alcohol drinking or even simple possession of beer, wine or hard liquor can have an effect on a young person’s future driving privileges.

As we said, there are rules on New Jersey’s law books that prohibit underage drinking as well as possession of alcohol by any minor. As New Jersey drunken driving defense attorneys, I and my colleagues understand how teens and pre-teen, just like adults, can make mistakes with alcohol that can land them in front of a judge. Whether it’s DWI or drug DUI, depending on the particular situation, it is usually advisable to contact a qualified DWI attorney to better understand one’s options.

An underage DWI arrest can lead to a potentially damaging underage drinking (DWI) conviction, which could haunt an individual onward into adulthood. Any young person on the verge of adulthood would be well advised to head his or her parents’ advice to wait to take that first drink. And since New Jersey’s state legislature has already written statutes that preclude a minor from engaging in underage drinking, why even take that chance?

Of course, kids don’t always listen to what parent tell them, but some parents may not realize the implications of teen drinking, much less drunken driving by those self-same children. We were reminded of this when we ran across a news article covering a forum held on the subject of teen drinking, which was apparently poorly attended, according to the author. It is perhaps too obvious a topic, but the lack of participation may be a bit discouraging to those parents who feel this is a serious subject that needs to be discussed.

According to the article, a gathering sponsored by the police department in Wayne, NJ, and the local school district took place in mid-April at Wayne Valley High School. As part of the proceedings, those in attendance were treated to a screening of “Stoned Cold,” a short movie produced several years earlier by Bergen County police and the Hackensack University Medical Center. The movie has shown to Wayne WVHS students over the past several years. Once the 45-minute film had ended, presenters opened the floor to discussion.

Designed to raise awareness in teens about the negative effects of underage drinking, police believe that the movie has in some way helped to reduce the instances of DWI-related accidents among Wayne’s young people. According to the news report, no drunken driving accidents taken place since the school district began showing the movie to students.

The principal at WVHS was present and also spoke to parents of the lengths that children can end up going to these days to get drunk, including soaking tampons in alcohol and placing hard candy in vodka to sidestep actually drinking from a bottle of liquor. Reminding the attendees that they need not try to be their kid’s best friend, simply their parent.

However, with alcohol being the traditional “drug of choice” in our schools, many parents apparently tend to look the other way rather than confront their children. As part of the program, the local police commander reminded parents of their culpability if and when they allow their kids to knowingly consume an alcoholic beverage. In such instances, even a well-meaning parent can be criminally charged with providing alcohol to a minor; never mind the unthinkable legal implications if that underage person gets behind the wheel of a car and kills himself or another person. The potential liability should get any thinking person’s attention.

Parents get educated on dangers of teen drinking, NorthJersey.com, April 12, 2012