Did You Let Your Teen Drive Drunk? You May be Legally Responsible

It's an increasingly common trend in Virginia, as in the U.S. as a whole, for authorities to hold parents responsible for teen drinking—if a case can be made that the parent enabled his child's drinking, supplied the alcohol, or even “looked the other way” when he or she should have known better. One result of this increased scrutiny of parental behavior can be seen in teen DUI arrests, in which prosecutors will sometimes file criminal charges against the responsible teen's parents, especially if the juvenile was involved in an accident involving property damage or personal injury.

What is the legal bar that separates parental responsibility from the usual parental cluelessness? It will be an open-and-shut case if you encourage your teen and his friends to drink at your home, on the theory that you can at least monitor their behavior and keep them out of trouble--an error that's compounded if you actually buy them the alcohol. If your teen has had a prior arrest for DUI, that almost certainly means his license has been suspended; therefore, if he's caught driving your car while intoxicated, the police will want to know how he got hold of the vehicle.

Of course, parents can't maintain 24-hour control over their teenagers, and the authorities will certainly understand if your teen is exceptionally violent and rebellious (that won't get him off the hook for a DUI, of course, but it may prompt the authorities to excuse your own lack of oversight or ability to control his behavior). Questions? Call the juvenile DUI attorneys at Jarrell Hicks & Waldman (888-783-9701) for a free consultation today!

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