The school year is winding to a close, and it’s officially time to celebrate the Class of 2014 with a slew of sappy graduation parties. Since not every bash involves grandma in the garden with a classy string quartet, take a moment in between stocking up on copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go to have one last casual chat about underage drinking with your teenager. It might seem futile at this point, but studies show “kids who are told by their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens who receive other messages.”
Groups such as MADD and SADD offer advice for talking to your children about drunk driving, but make sure you slip these three facts into the discussion regardless of whether you choose the good cop or the bad cop routine:
1. Colorado has a “Zero Tolerance” policy for drivers under the age of 21, which penalizes minors for operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content level of just 0.02 (the national legal limit of a 0.08 BAC only applies to those over 21 years old). There is also a “Minor in Possession” law that makes it an offense for those under the age of 21 to own, or to even hold, any amount of alcohol within their immediate presence. Incidentally, the consequences for Underage Drinking and Driving offenses include jail time, fines, and community service.
2. Driving stoned is illegal too. With recreational marijuana now legal in Colorado, this needs to be a part of the conversation as well—especially as more teens report driving stoned than drunk. Colorado recently introduced a bill that ought to make it harder for minors to access pot in the first place, but that’s no reason to be naïve. Driving high will earn you a DUI—and that could certainly jeopardize those shiny college acceptances.
3. You will always be there for a ride home—without judgment. While it may be important to lecture on the perils of underage drinking, this is the only point you really need heard. It may sound trite, but the phrase “they have their whole futures in front of them” is never truer than at one’s high school graduation. It’s crucial your children know they can rely on you so their safety—their future—won’t be at risk if they do decide to indulge in one last illicit hurrah with their friends.
Trust us, when one of the mothers pulls out the margarita machine and begins pouring out drinks for all her daughter’s friends in a show of “coolness” (as happened during one of our own infamous graduation parties), you’ll be glad you had this little talk.