No Riding with an Impaired Driver Someday your child may be faced with deciding whether or not to ride in a car with an individual who has been drinking. Emphasize that getting in a car with any impaired driver is extremely dangerous. Set a clear family rule: No riding with any driver under the age of 21 who has had any amount of alcohol. Discuss with your child the danger of riding with anyone who may have had too much to drink. Help them make a plan in case he or she experiences an unsafe situation. Talk about alternatives, such as calling a parent or trusted adult for a ride home. Remind your child that drinking coffee or other techniques for “sobering up” don’t actually work. He or she should not rely on these techniques to make a friend a safe and non-drinking driver.
Some parents worry that offering a child who has been drinking a ride home could send the wrong message and make kids believe it is okay to drink alcohol. Even if you offer a ride home, you can still enforce previously established consequences for breaking the no-alcohol rule. Assure your child that safety is the first priority. When adolescents have good communication with their parents and trust that their parents won’t overreact (by getting angry and setting harsh or unknown punishments), they are more likely to call home for help. The most important thing is to ensure your child gets home safely.
Kids who don’t consider all the consequences are more likely to ride with someone who has been drinking. Since kids pay most attention to short- term consequences, parents need to set clear no-alcohol use rules and enforce consequences.
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