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Spring brings multiple opportunities for underage drinking

If you're the parent of a teen, particularly one in their later years of high school, you know the next couple of months are among the busiest on your kids' social calendars. This can be cause for worry. Spring break is followed closely by prom season and then graduation parties. All of these can put your kids around copious amounts of alcohol and drugs that can be hard to resist -- particularly when peer pressure is involved.

Last month, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) partnered with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company to launch a Spring PowerTalk 21 Campaign. Their goal was to give parents of high school as well as middle school students the resources they need to talk to their kids about alcohol and drugs -- including marijuana. MADD is hosting Power of Parents events throughout the country through the end of May.

Many parents of teens and preteens feel like it's useless to try to talk to their kids about the potential dangers of drugs and alcohol. However, MADD's president says, "This is the most important time for parents to talk to your kids, because they listen to you. They look to you to set the tone."

Thousands of kids who aren't even old enough to legally drink lose their lives because of alcohol every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that over 4,300 young people die every year as the result of excessive drinking. This can include deaths from alcohol poisoning, drunk driving accidents and other alcohol-related incidents.

The Power of Parents program also focuses on the dangers of marijuana use for young people. The drug has become increasingly legalized across the country and is viewed by many people as harmless. However, it can negatively impact young bodies and brains that are still developing.

Teens can be charged with DUI whether they're driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or even prescription drugs if a law enforcement officer determines that their ability to safely operate a vehicle is compromised. If your child is facing a DUI charge, your first instinct may be to let them learn their lesson by facing the legal consequences.

However, these consequences can impact their short-term and long-term future. Therefore, it's wise to make sure they have an experienced attorney to protect their rights and present their case.

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