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Don’t let an underage OUI ruin your teenager’s holiday

The holiday season is here, but that’s not necessarily a reason to celebrate if you have a teenage child. That’s because the season is one of the most dangerous of the year for drunk drivers—and, though it can be difficult for parents to face, some of those drunk drivers are teenagers.

In Massachusetts, anyone under the age of 21 who drives with a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or higher can be charged with operating under the influence. That's even worse than a lump of coal in your stocking. To prevent an OUI charge from ruining your holiday, follow these tips to prevent your minor from drinking and driving.

  • Provide a ride

No, you may not be able to completely control your teenager’s actions. But one thing you can control is how they get to and from their holiday parties. There are plenty of options for sober rides: Give them money for cab fare or offer to drive them yourself. And if your teen has their own car, don’t be afraid to take away their keys if you think they may be drinking.

  • Monitor the alcohol consumption in your home

For many families, the holiday celebration may include a few alcoholic beverages: Maybe a glass of champagne, or some alcoholic cider. Drinking responsibly is fine for adults, but be certain that the teenagers present are not sneaking drinks. You should carefully monitor how much alcohol is consumed—and whether your teenager is consuming any.

  • Lead by example

As a parent, you play a crucial role in how your child perceives alcohol consumption. Teens often mirror their parents’ drinking habits, so this is your chance to set an example through your own behavior. If you drink to excess, your adolescent may internalize this behavior as acceptable or healthy. If you don’t wish to abstain from alcohol completely this season, be sure to drink responsibly.

  • Talk about it

Sit down with your child and have a frank discussion about the dangers of driving under the influence. Discuss how it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, that driving drunk is incredibly dangerous and that the consequences of an OUI can follow them around for a lifetime. If your child does incur an OUI, you may wish to talk to an attorney.

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