Navigating teen drunk driving is a task that most parents are aware of, but not prepared to face. Michael Reichardt, public information officer for Louisiana State Police Troop F, says that it's best to talk out the issue instead of letting tempers flare. One DWI can follow a teen for an entire lifetime and affect their social life and academic career.
On the effects of alcohol on teen physiology
There’s a whole lot more to it to that. Alcohol can affect the way your whole body functions. A lot of people think that you have to be drunk for alcohol to impair you – that’s not true. One alcoholic beverage can impair you and make you do things you may not normally do. One beer is one too many beers especially if you plan on driving home. A lot of people think, “I’m the designated driver. I can have a beer. I’m not driving for two hours.” That’s not the case. One beer is one too many. If you have the goal to be the designated driver, then that’s what you need to be.
On how alcohol impacts the teenage brain
Of course, teenagers don’t tend to drink as much as adults. If they do, they tend to binge drink and drink more than one beer or shot. The thing that we’re seeing these days is that a teenager will drink a couple of beers and take a few pills. That makes the effects even worse. Of course teenagers don’t have the responsibilities that adults have and the know when to stop. Peer pressure has a lot to do with that, but they just don’t know when to stop and how to control it.
On the consequences and long-term effects of drunk driving
First offense DWI is a misdemeanor. In Ouachita Parish it’s going to cost you between $5,000 to $6,000. That’s not where it stops. It may prevent you from getting to the college of your choice, you may get suspended from school. It has lots of different consequences. Not only monetary, but lasting consequences that you might not think of right now.
On the parental responsibility to step-in for teen drunk drivers
As a parent, I would be upset. However, if you’re upset and they’re impaired, it’s not the time to have that conversation. The impaired child is going to get upset and you’ll end up saying things you don’t mean to say. Go pick your kid up. Do not let them drive home. Let them sleep it out. Talk to them the next morning. Be angry. Be upset. But wait until the next morning.