As a parent you can try your best to teach your children safe behaviors, but it is ultimately up to your children to actually practice those safe behaviors. Teenagers and young adults can be especially prone to challenging rules, testing boundaries and choosing fun over safety.
Drinking and driving is a serious mistake for anyone to make, especially those who are underage. If your child is caught drinking and driving, there are three levels of charges that he or she could receive depending on his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Underage drinking and driving
If your child’s BAC is between .02 and .05 he or she could be convicted of underage drinking and driving (UDD). Assuming it is your child’s first UDD, he or she will probably not need to spend time in jail. However, your child could be penalized with a fine up to $100, up to 24 hours of public service and possibly probation.
Driving while ability impaired
If your child’s BAC is over .05, he or she could receive the same criminal penalties as an adult would receive. With a BAC between .05 and .08, your child could be convicted of driving while ability impaired (DWAI). This conviction could result in a sentence involving between two and 180 days in jail, a fine between $200 and $500, and between 24 and 48 hours of public service.
Driving under the influence
A BAC over .08 could result in a driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) conviction. The penalties could include between five days and a year in jail, a fine between $600 and $1,000, between 48 hours and 96 hours of community service, and possibly probation.
Other charges may apply
Keep in mind that depending on the details of your child’s case, there may be other laws that could affect your child. For example, your child could be charged with a minor in possession (MIP) offense. Penalties for a MIP conviction can include a fine up to $250, up to 24 hours of community service and alcohol education.
If you believe in tough love, you may feel inclined to let the law handle your child’s punishment. However, the criminal penalties for drinking and driving convictions are severe and could have a lasting impact on your child’s life. Chances are that your child simply made a mistake and has already been scared out of repeat behavior. With this in mind, it may be appropriate to help your child seek the best possible outcome in court.