Handing over the car keys to your teenager can produce a lot of anxiety for any parent, and there are good reasons why. For example, according to a study published online in the journal Pediatrics, many teens are so vulnerable to peer pressure that they may even choose to drink and drive solely because their friends have done so in the past. Moreover, the earlier and more often a young person is exposed to drunk driving – as a passenger – the more likely that teen is to practice the same behavior in the future. If your teenager is arrested for DWI on Long Island or anywhere in the New York City area, get the legal help you need right away and consult an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney.

Approximately 2,500 teens participated in the Pediatrics study. Researchers continued to follow the young people until they completed high school. They discovered that riding as a passenger with an impaired driver tends to “normalize” the experience for teens; it suggests to teens that impaired driving is “really” common and acceptable.

What Can Parents Do?

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, traffic accidents are the number one cause of death in the U.S. for young people between the ages of 15 to 25; alcohol is a factor in 50 percent of those fatal crashes.

If you are a parent of teens or pre-teens, it’s absolutely imperative to set the best possible example regarding driving. You should never allow your teen to think that underage drinking and driving is acceptable. If you have had a drink, never get behind the wheel. Remember, teens will follow your lead, so be careful of the example that you are setting.

It’s equally important to maintain a continuing dialogue about driving safely at all times. Keep an open and honest line of communication open with your teens. Let them know that if they do make the bad decision to drink, then they can always call you for a ride. They should never feel like the only option they have is to get into a car and drive home, or get into a car with someone else who has been drinking. Although there should be consequences if they choose to drink underage, they should still know that you’ll be there when you need them.

You should also openly discuss the consequences of underage drinking and driving. Many teens feel invincible, so it’s important for parents to help them understand that the consequences are very real, and sometimes even fatal.

Underage DWI Consequences

A minor charged with DWI in the state of New York can lose his or her driving privilege and encounter some real barriers to employment and higher education. If your teen is arrested in New York City or anywhere on Long Island for underage DWI, you can do something about it. Arrange at once to speak with an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney. New York has a “zero tolerance” approach to underage drinking, so a minor does not have to be “over the limit” to be charged with DWI. Any underage driver who tests at 0.02 percent – a barely measurable trace of alcohol – can be charged with underage DWI.

Upon a conviction, the penalties for underage DWI can include jail time, a fine as high as $1,000, and the use of an ignition interlock device once the driving privilege has been restored.

A conviction can also stay on your juvenile’s record indefinitely. Although minors are eligible to have their records sealed after all conditions of the sentencing have been met, the judge looks at each petition on a case-by-case basis. What does that mean? There are no guarantees that your teen will be able to seal his or her DWI record. If it cannot be sealed, future employers, schools and landlords can easily access it and let it affect their hiring or admission decisions. Not to mention that even the public can view these records, leading to embarrassment and shame for years to come.

Hire A Long Island DWI Attorney

If you are the parent, it’s imperative to put an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney on your child’s case as early as possible. After a full consideration of the facts, a defense strategy can be developed. However, if a teen’s intoxicated driving caused property damage, injuries, or fatalities, the case is going to be far more serious and complicated, and the need for experienced, knowledgeable legal counsel becomes even greater.

Make sure that your teen exercises his or her right to remain silent. There is no reason to answer law enforcement’s questions without the presence of an attorney.

The primary job of police officers, aside from maintaining order, is to gather facts and collect statements when alleged crimes are reported – no more, no less.  In the performance of a police investigation to gather facts and statements, police officers may have to decide whether or not to take a person to jail for processing and arraignment (a formal reading of charges to be pursued), but they make this decision based on the facts and statements provided, not on their own legal analysis. Anything that your teen says can be misconstrued and held against them in court, so it’s always recommended to stay silent until you have a lawyer present.

Teens should know that they should never admit to having a few drinks, even if they have failed the sobriety test. There are plenty of reasons why someone can fail a test besides that person being drunk, so this should not be considered an automatic conviction.

Drivers under age 21 account for fewer than ten percent New York’s licensed drivers, but underage drivers are involved in 14 percent of the DWI-related fatalities in the state. Underage drinkers who drive are also responsible for approximately 2,000 non-fatal accidents every year in New York. If your teenager is charged with DWI in New York, understand that an arrest is not automatically a conviction. Let an experienced Long Island DWI defense attorney fight for the best possible resolution to your teenager’s DWI case, and make the call immediately.