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Summer vacation and the risk of underage drinking

Grown-ups see their kids celebrate their last day of school and sigh, "Wow, how awesome was it to have a summer break!" Many parents might also remember, however, the kind of fun that they and their friends tried during their summers.

Sure, not everyone tries drinking as teens, but for those who wanted to try it, consuming some beers at a summer party was a likely route to go. A scary reality for many parents is that things are not much different today. When school is out and teens have free time to have fun in the sun, the risk for underage drinking is high. 

MADD warns parents about the link between summer break and teen drinking. They stress how crucial it is that parents have open, honest, serious conversations with their children about alcohol use and drunk driving before there is a problem:

Discuss consequences and punishment from a family perspective

What, as parents, do you vow to do if you find out your child uses alcohol or drugs? What behavior do you expect from your children regarding substance use? Talk to them about your expectations and the consequences in a way that also lets them know your standards come from a place of caring. 

Discuss consequences and punishment from a legal perspective

You should know what legal ramifications would follow an underage drinking offense, as well as an underage DUI in Tennessee. For example, the BAC threshold for a teen is stricter than for an adult. If someone under 21 is caught with a BAC level of 0.02 or more, they will be charged with underage drinking and, if driving, DUI. 

The threat of losing driving privileges and future opportunities that their friends will get to enjoy can hit home with teens. It can be truly difficult for someone to see their friends getting into the schools or jobs that they want, while an underage DUI holds a teen back from the goals they once had and that were once attainable.

It is normal for your kids to roll their eyes and to not want to have these serious conversations with you. It is better to push through the awkwardness, however, before an awkward talk about hypotheticals becomes an emotional talk that will include a criminal defense lawyer and the harsh reality that a teen could get stuck with a criminal record.

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