For some teenagers, alcohol can be irresistible. In fact, in a 2019 survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 25% of 14- and 15-year-olds said they have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage in their young lives.
While young teens are not yet eligible to receive their driver’s licenses, driving while impaired without a license may keep your teen off the road for a few years.
In response to a tragic accident, the Minnesota State Legislature passed Vanessa’s Law in 2004. This law applies to unlicensed drivers under the age of 21 who have alcohol-related car accidents. If your son or daughter drives without a license and has an alcohol-related crash, he or she may not receive a driver’s license, provisional license or instructional permit until he or she turns 18.
Vanessa’s law is broad. If teenagers drive without a license, any of the following may prevent them from obtaining a license before their 18th birthdays:
- Driving while impaired
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.00%
- Violating Minnesota’s implied consent law
- Having an open container inside a vehicle
If your teenager already has a license when one of the above occurs, your child is likely to lose his or her driver’s license for at least 30 days.
Teenagers often want to work for spending money or to save for college. If your son or daughter may not obtain a driver’s license, finding gainful employment may be difficult. Even worse, a conviction under Vanessa’s Law may give your child a criminal record.
Even if you know your teen is a good kid, you may not be certain he or she has not tried alcohol. Ultimately, discussing Vanessa’s law with the young one in your family may be an effective way to keep your teen from engaging in unsafe behaviors.