Doing the right thing.
It's not easy being a parent, and
when it comes to alcohol, the job gets even tougher as your child gets
older. How should the subject of beer, wine and liquor be approached in
discussions with your kids, escpecially those getting ready to leave high
school? The first step is to know the laws in Pennsylvania, including the
penalties for underage drinking. The second step is to discourage alcohol
use by those under 21.
* Kids who use alcohol are more
likely to have drinking problems later in life.
* It's a crime to sell or give
alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 - even your own kids. Penalties
include a fine of $1000 for the first minor, $2500 for every other minor,
and up to a year in jail. If you were to host a party in your home where
any alcoholic was served to ten of your kid's underage friends, for
example, you could receive a $23,500 fine and face up to a year in
* Minors convicted of attempting
to purchase, purchasing, transporting or possessing alcohol, lying about
their age or carrying a false I.D. card to obtain alcohol will lose their
driver's license for 90 days and face fines of up to $500 plus court
costs. For youth under 16 or without a driver's license these penalties go
into effect when the minor applies for a learner's permit.
* Anyone under the age of 21
driving with a blood alcohol content of .02 or higher can be charged with
DUI according to the Pennsylvania Zero Tolerance Law. This law provides
penalties for persons under 21 driving with any alcohol in their system.
Drinking drivers over age 18 face a fine of up to $5000, a one year
license suspension, 48 hours in jail and attendance at a mandatory
alcohol highway safety course.
What the law means.
Serving alcohol to minors or
driving under the influence of alcohol, at any age, are serious crimes
that cause injury and death. Over 50% of all teenage drivers who die in
car crashes have alcohol in their blood. Many of them fail to use seat
belts. Teen drivers who drink are in more crashes than any other age
Everyone wants their children to
grow up to become responsible adults. That means making sure adults and
adolescents take alcohol and driving very, very seriously.
Some 1995 fatality statistics
involving driving and alcohol in Pennsylvania:
* BAC .01 to .09 - 83 deaths.
* BAC .10 to .14 - 77 deaths.
* BAC .15 to .19 - 88 deaths.
* BAC .20 to .24 - 75 deaths.
* BAC .25 to .29 - 32 deaths.
* BAC .30 and up - 25 deaths.
What parents can do.
Strong foundations are built in
childhood. Many things parents do show kids how to become responsible
* Talk to your kids about alcohol
and the law.
* Know about the effects of
alcohol on a teenager's body so you explain why you want them to wait
until after age 21 to decide whether or not to drink
* Know your child's friends. Get
to know their parents. Talk to them about your rules with your child. If
all parents set the same curfews and have similar rules, one adolescent
is not singled out for teasing.
* Establish limits and stick to
them. Set curfews. Say "no" when necessary and don't apologize for it.
Trust your decision - kids want and need to know what their limits
* It's important for kids to know
you'll be awake, waiting to talk with them when they return
* Set a good example. If you drink
as soon as you come in the door from work, take medication with alcohol or
drive after you have had a drink, you can expect your child to do the same
thing. Remember your kids do as you do.
* Plan alcohol-free parties with
your teen. Make sure it is understood that you will be home and available
if there is a problem. If they're going to a party at someone else's
house, call those parents and confirm the invitation. Make sure they are
as responsible as you. Ask if parents plan to supervise the party or if
alcohol is permitted. If the party is not supervised, chances are alcohol
will be present. Decline the invitation, if necessary.
* Give kids the information then
need to know to do the right thing. Talk to them about how to refuse
alcohol or refuse a ride with an impaired driver without looking like a
wimp. Encourage them to be the non-drinking designated driver wherever
* Set examples for your child to
follow. Be a good role model.
Sign Safety Agreements.
Discuss and sign safety agreements
outlining the rules to be followed, both parents and children, in order to
become more responsible individuals. Explain that you will follow the same
rules you expect of your child. Signing these together shows mutual
respect, trust and love.
Examples of Safety
I agree to take actions to keep
safe. I will always use my seat belt, and I will not use alcohol or drugs.
I will find another ride or call you rather than ever ride with a drinking
or drug-taking driver. If I ride a motorcycle, I promise that I will wear
a helmet. I recognize that you care about what happens to me, and I will
keep this agreement.....Signed.....
I agree to take actions to keep
safe. I will always use my seat belt. If I choose to drink, I will not
drive myself and I will only ride with a sober driver. I will find another
ride or call you rather than ever ride with a drinking or drug-taking
driver. If I ride a motorcycle, I promise that I will wear a helmet. I
recognize that you care about me and I will keep this
For more Information:
1-800-453-PLCB or 1-800-227-2358.
Information provided by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control