Advancements in understanding the adolescent brain confirm that the centers responsible for good judgment haven’t fully developed. Underaged drinking can further impair decision making, and it’s a simple fact: even without alcohol or drugs, teens just don’t have a lot of experience behind the wheel.
Couple these factors with the excitement swirling around prom, graduation, and beyond, and the stage is set for disaster.
A glance in the rearview toward one quiet town’s last prom season punctuated by two car crashes is enough to prove it. After crashing his vehicle into a light pole, one male teen’s fear of being caught quickly trumped human decency when he and his friends opted to grab their beer and flee the scene, leaving two female passengers alone – one of whom was unconscious. A few hours later, another teen ran as well, after losing control of his van and crashing.
These situations are exactly what police are on high alert to prevent during prom season. It’s also why it’s imperative to talk with your kids – like the adults they are becoming – about the personal risks of underage drinking and driving before they head out the door.
What to Know About Texas MIP & Underage Drinking Laws
Understanding the basics about minor in possession and underage drinking laws in Texas is a great first step to protecting your prom-goers this season. Here are a few key pieces of info you need to know:
- Anyone under 21 years of age is prohibited from buying, possessing, or consuming alcohol (unless they meet extremely specific criteria).
- Texas is Zero Tolerance – one drop of alcohol detected is too much for those who are underage (and enough for DWI charges).
- Low-level consequences include hundreds in fines, community service time, and alcohol awareness program involvement.
- Even a first-time offense leaves your teen open to having his or her driver’s license revoked.
- You can be held liable for their actions in certain situations, too.
In addition, here are a few tips on how to begin the conversation to share this information with your teens.
Talking Underage Drinking Risks with Texas Teens
Remember, you’re not trying to scare your children out of making those forever memories you want them to have. Your approach should leave them encouraged, empowered, and motivated to protect themselves and their friends.
Offer more than one solution, let them choose, and require that their plans are made well in advance. Suggest a few of them plan for third-party transportation for all students or book a ride for at least your teen and their friends. It’s also the perfect time to make yourself available and judgement-free – no matter the situation.
Resources to Help the Conversation
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) advises how to create and maintain an ongoing and intentional discussion about underage drinking.
There are also easy-to-print pamphlets available through the DPS website. Printing and reviewing them together is a great way to ensure your teen is more aware of the consequences they face.
Worried they’ll just ignore you? It’s possible, but you probably still have more influence over their decisions than you think.
So, give it a shot. It can only improve your kid’s chances of making the best memories.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.