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Preventing Underage Drinking

Underage drinking has legal and social consequences that can upset families and mess up a young person’s life. It has been a generational challenge, because it can be very difficult to communicate the many dangers of alcohol abuse to young people. They lack a frame of reference for these dangers and can feel warnings are not meant for them personally. But failing to heed these warnings can lead to arrests and unexpected and unwanted consequences.

underage drinking and driving

Drinking Has An Effect Fairly Quickly

Small amounts of alcohol can result in, rather quickly, tremendous impacts on a person’s body. For most people , you will begin to feel the effects of alcohol after 2-3 drinks. A person may have a drink and immediately start experiencing a feeling of relaxation and slight loss of inhibition. Another drink and they are losing their motor coordination, leading them to be unsteady on their feet and slow their reaction time. According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, “Generally, the lower your body weight, the less blood and water you have. So, smaller people usually have a higher ratio of alcohol in their blood if they drink the same amount a heavier person drinks.” It’s generally accepted that people with smaller body frames may experience the effects sooner than larger-framed people, but regardless of size, a few ounces of alcohol will have an effect fairly quickly.

People can feel the effects of beer or wine a little less and this may be because the water in beer and wine dilutes the alcohol in the beer or wine compared with an equal amount of alcohol in hard liquor. If you are consuming alcohol beverages too fast or consuming too much, the negative effects will be increased and rapidly so, and invariably you will be less able to make good decisions.

Drinking Can Negatively Impact Development

A major concern about underage drinking is the negative impacts on a person’s development physically and mentally. According to the CDC, “youth who drink alcohol are likely to experience social problems, memory loss, disruption of normal growth or sexual development, and changes in brain development” among other things. Alcohol affects a person’s ability to think clearly and leads to poor decision-making and may have permanent or long term effects.

Risky Behavior Can Lead to Arrests

At a young age, alcohol abuse can lead to problems in school, with friends or other classmates, and authority figures like parents, teachers, and law enforcement. According to professor Dr. Gary Wenk, young people have a sense of immortality – that nothing bad will happen to them. Include these feelings with underage drinking and the typical problems and pressures of being a teenager, and the results can end up crossing into illegal behaviors such as criminal mischief, vandalism, assault, and driving under the influence.

Once the police are arresting for criminal behavior, then the consequences become very serious. For minors in Tennessee, consuming alcohol, possessing alcohol, purchasing alcohol, and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are all illegal. For example, a first time offender DUI conviction can result in a Class A misdemeanor on your criminal record, up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, license revocation for a year, and fines up to $1,500 while a vehicular assault (injuring another by DUI driving) is a Class D felony and jail time can be 2-12 years.

Prevention Steps

  • Educate

Because alcohol abuse by minors poses so many threats and negative impacts, educating your child about the physiological effects of alcohol on their bodies, minds, and personal and social relationships is important. There are many resources to obtain good information such as National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) , Operation Parent, and Nashville Prevention Partnership. Your child’s school system may also be able to provide you will information.

  • Restrict Access

If you have alcohol in your house, find ways to prevent access to the supply. Inspect the bottles for signs of tampering, such as the bottles having fewer contents or being filled with water. Be aware of how much you have in your home and keep an eye on how much gets consumed.

  • Communicate

Communicate with your children about your concerns. Come with facts and information and talk with anyone under the age of 21 about the dangers of abusing alcohol. Talking about the potential consequences may save their lives, prevent legal problems, and help them to do better in life.

Talk to other parents if you have concerns about their child. If you see a merchant selling alcohol to minors, tell local law enforcement so any illegal access is stopped.

Contact Us Today

If you have a child that has been arrested or cited for underage drinking or for committing a DUI (driving under the influence) in the state of Tennessee, you need a legal professional like Attorney David Clarke that understands the situation, has experience, and can ensure their legal rights will be protected, no matter the situation. To find out more, contact The Clarke Law Firm today and learn about defense against such charges.