As a parent, knowing your teenager is out alone behind the wheel after dark can cause many a sleepless night. But, getting a call from your teen telling you they’ve just been arrested for a DUI while driving your car could end up costing you more than a few hours of sleep worrying about your child’s safety. You can expect your already high auto insurance rates to go even higher. And, that’s if your insurer doesn’t cancel your policy.
Zero Tolerance For Any Driver Under 21
As for your teen driver – almost every state has a “zero tolerance” law that forbids anyone under 21 from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 percent or greater. Depending on the state you reside in, things only get worse from there.
Adults can get away with a BAC of below 0.08 percent. Anything above that level qualifies as driving under the influence and may cause a driver to be arrested. But for those under the legal age to drink (21), there is no tolerance for any level above .01 percent. Once convicted, these drivers may have to file an SR-22 certificate with the state, labeling them as high-risk drivers. Young drivers are already paying for high-risk car insurance, since as a collective group they get into more car wrecks than other age groups.
Fines, Penalty Assessments and Suspended License
Most states come down hard on anyone under the age of 21 who is caught drinking (or using any mind-altering substance) while driving. Your teen could be facing:
- Loss of driving privileges for at least one year
- Some form of alcohol treatment, counseling or education
- Court fines and fees
- Attorney bills
- Community Service
- Even jail time
And that’s if they weren’t involved in a wreck and didn’t injure anyone. Adults who get convicted for DUI often find themselves spending anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 once it is all said and done – and that includes higher auto insurance. Guess who will most likely be picking up the tab if your teen gets a DUI conviction?
Long-Term Effects of Teen DUI
Teen drivers who are convicted of DUI may face many issues in the short- and long-term, including:
- Punishment or even expelled from school
- Serious negative impacts on college admissions and/or financial aid
- Finding a job with a conviction (especially for those between the ages of 17-21)
- Inability to drive after loss of license can impact many aspects of a teenager’s life
While most teen DUI offenders are released to their parents’ custody and aren’t jailed, if they caused a crash or injured someone, it might be a different story. Should no harm to others have resulted from their DUI, your teen may be ordered to attend “scared straight” programs at the county morgue and hospital – whether they like it or not.
In addition, a DUI conviction will put points on your driving record in states that use the points system and raise already high auto insurance rates. For example, in California, a DUI means two points on your teen’s driving record, just like an adult. Should your teen be under 18, he or she may be ordered to appear with you in juvenile traffic court, costing you possible lost wages due to time away from work. In all likelihood, their car or yours will also be impounded and towed, resulting in potentially huge storage fees that you may have to pay.
Failure to Appear Could Result in Criminal Charges
If your teen is ordered to appear in court with you and neither of you show up, both of you could be subject to criminal charges for failure to appear. The court may even issue arrest warrants for you and your child and deem you an irresponsible parent, leading to your teen being removed from your custody.
And, it doesn’t get any better for your teen if he or she is 18-19 years old. They’ll be arrested for the DUI, same as most adult offenders, and held in jail for as long as it takes for them to sober up. In most cases, they’ll be released without having to post bail, but they’ll have to appear in court later.
You and Your Teen Could be Dropped from Your Car Insurance
Keep in mind that for most car insurance companies, a teen DUI is regarded as a “scarlet letter” and a great many of them will drop the entire family rather than take further risk. Your teen’s driving record tends to be judged as a reflection of you and your parenting skills, and insurers prefer to avoid everyone in a household with a DUI.
If that happens, you’ll be looking for some affordable DUI car insurance. You can use some other tested methods for lowing your car insurance, such as shopping around and comparing car insurance quotes, taking advantage of any car insurance discounts you qualify for and deciding to increase your deductible – at least temporarily.
It’s always a good idea to discuss the importance of not drinking and driving, avoiding any type of distracted driving, and staying completely focused when behind the wheel – before letting your teen get their driver’s license and handing them the keys to the family car or allowing them to buy their own. The more you stress safety and responsibility to your teen, the less stress you’re likely to have.
Find Affordable Car Insurance Online Today
If you need reliable, affordable car insurance coverage, contact Freeway Insurance today at (800) 777-5620 to speak with a live agent to discuss your budget and needs. You can also request a free car insurance quote online or visit us at one of our convenient locations.