Teens and DUI: Which Parent’s Responsibility?
When a teen driver is involved in a DUI (driving under the influence) arrest or accident, it is automatically assumed that the parents are going to be financially responsible for their actions. While this is the case for most events, there is also the issue of divorced parents. If the teen has divorced parents, determining who is going to be financially and legally responsible for this event becomes a little more difficult.
If your teen has been charged with a DUI, deciding which parent is responsible as well as determining what can be done for your child may be a question that a law firm, like the Wilson Law Firm, could be hired to solve. Having a lawyer to assist in unraveling the legal aspects can help to relieve some stress so that you can better deal with the emotional turmoil that a DUI can cause.
Questions That Must Be Asked
• Who was caring for the teen at the time of the incident?
• Was the parent aware of the teen drinking?
• Was the other parent aware of the drinking?
• Who owned the car in which the drunk driving took place?
• Where was the teen heading to or coming from at the time of the arrest?
• Have there been other incidences involving alcohol and either parent?
• Who is deemed financially responsible for the teen’s actions according to the divorce decree?
• Who is financially supporting the teen? If both parents, who is considered the main guardian?
This is just a sampling of the questions that must be asked and answered to determine who is going to be responsible for the actions of the teen.
Because divorce and custody laws vary by state, the state in which you reside may have specific guidelines to determine the responsible party. However, as a whole, the main guardian is most likely to be held responsible for the actions of the teen unless it can be proven without a doubt that the actions of the other parent are what caused this event to happen.
DUI Punishment For Teens
The punishment for DUI convictions is also regulated on a state level. Each state has the right to establish its own guidelines. Overall, most states have severe punishments for underage DUI offenders, but it usually does not include jail time.
Underage offenders may be required to serve extensive community service and pay large fines. They will have their license revoked for a specific period of time. In some areas, they may even be required to retake the driver’s test at age 18 if they wish to have driving privileges as an adult.
If an accident resulted from underage drinking, the penalties may be even more severe. At this point, it is easy to assume that the teen will spend time in juvenile detention. Restitution may also be required to the victim that is above any payments received from the insurance company.
Parents, divorced or not, need to stress to their teens the importance of refraining from underage drinking and the terrible consequences of a DUI. Encouraging your teen to remain safe will not only protect them, and those around them, but it will also help protect each parent from being financially and legally liable for the actions of their teen should they get arrested or cause an accident while driving under the influence.
Melanie Fleury is the mom of a preteen and cannot begin to imagine the emotional and mental stress that a DUI would cause the family. She has found in researching situations where legal issues are faced by a family, that the Wilson Law Firm of Virginia helps clients to relieve the stress of trying to navigate the court system.