Kids should know prom fun doesn’t depend on underage drinking

“Everyone is doing it!” That’s a common reply that parents and teachers might hear from teenagers who are trying to defend less-than-ideal behavior. And at this time of year, that statement is probably being used more than ever.

Yes, prom season is upon us. And while we adults all have our own memories of the landmark event in our lives, it’s important to focus on the reality of our kids’ day in age. The theory that prom and DWIs go hand-in-hand, however, seems to have been debunked by recent studies. So, maybe that means parents have less to worry about.

According to U.S. News & World Report, fewer teens actually drink and drive on their prom nights than people generally think. Only a reported 6 percent of students admit to drunk driving. On one hand, that is definitely good news. That means that less kids will be cited for underage drinking and less drunk driving accidents will occur.

Interestingly, while only 6 percent actually drive drunk, sources report that 90 percent of teens think that their friends would drive drunk at prom. Misperception regarding the reality of underage drinking and drunk driving can endanger more teens. We have all heard of peer pressure. It can certainly be a powerful motivator for kids to participate in behavior that they otherwise would avoid, including drunk driving.

Because peer pressure can significantly affect teens’ actions, that means that teens actually have a lot of power to protect their peers. If more kids speak out against underage drinking and driving under the influence, more teens will understand that not everyone is doing it. Lives will be saved. Plus, kids and their parents will be saved from legal troubles.

Of course, parents are the ones who can inspire courage within their kids to speak out and mitigate negative peer pressure. The chairman of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) encourages parents to have open, casual and honest conversations about alcohol use and drunk driving. The trick, he claims, is not to preach to your kids; simply make the topic a consistent point of discussion for your family.

Source : U.S. News & World Report: “Drunk Driving After Prom: Perception vs. Reality,” Jason Koebler, 21 Apr. 2011

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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