You’ve no doubt had the “no drinking and driving” talk with your teen – maybe multiple times. However, if they’re taking a car to college with them this fall, it’s crucial to have it again. Even for underage kids, alcohol is easy to find at just about any college or university.
Just because your teen never came home drunk in high school, that doesn’t mean you can count on them to be responsible when confronted with unlimited free alcohol, the pressure to fit in and the added stress that college brings. If they’re among the relatively few kids with a car at school, they may be talked into driving places they could just as easily walk or take university-provided transportation – or into driving to a nearby town to sample the nightlife. Emphasize to your child that it’s often best to leave their car back at the dorm or other housing if they don’t need it.
Consequences to their college education and professional goals
It’s important for kids – and parents – to understand that a DUI can have short-term consequences for a college student as well as long-term ones. Aside from the criminal record, they could lose their scholarship, which may be the only way they can afford college. They could even be expelled.
A college DUI can also derail some professional goals. Careers in fields like teaching, law or medicine that require licensing may no longer be realistic.
If your child plans to work in the state or federal government, some jobs may also be off the table. Positions that require security clearances often include a thorough background check, and a DUI may be disqualifying.
There are alternatives to getting behind the wheel after drinking
Fortunately, there are plenty of options these days for students who want to go out and have a good time but don’t want to risk getting behind the wheel. Most schools have some type of “safe ride” service for students who have had one to many (and for anyone who doesn’t want to walk alone late at night).
If your college student is arrested for DUI, it’s important for them to have sound legal guidance to protect their rights and mitigate the consequences. While you may be tempted to let them deal with the justice system on their own to learn their lesson, this is a lesson that could follow them throughout their life.