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How to deal with your college student's first DUI

When your children go off to college, you hope they will make good decisions. However, you likely know that making mistakes is one of the best teachers around, and one mistake many college students make is drinking while underage.

When cars are involved, that mistake can become compounded; it may even result in a DUI charge. If your college student has been arrested on DUI charges, how can you, as a parent, react appropriately while remaining supportive?

The big picture first

One thing to keep in mind is the big picture. That is, your child's future, ability to stay in college, employment prospects and so on. A DUI can severely impact people in any of these areas, so getting in touch with a lawyer, if your child has not already, should be a top priority.

Details matter

Another thing to remember is that the standards for an underage DUI in Oklahoma are much lower than they are for a 21+ DUI. That is, your child might have been charged with a mere 0.02 percent BAC. That could be one drink, it could even be less than one. Thus, it is entirely possible your child made an honest mistake, thinking he or she was perfectly sober to drive.

There is also the fact that DUI tests can be flawed. For example, if your child is overweight or has poor balance, he or she may not have done well on the one-leg-stand field test and appeared intoxicated or more intoxicated than he or she was in reality. As for blood or breath tests, foreign items in the mouth such as a tongue stud can affect them. So can conditions such as acid reflux.

Your child's perspective

Depending on when your child told you about the arrest, he or she has been through a lot already: car impounded, hours in jail, cuffed and fingerprinted, and more. Before you do anything to react emotionally, such as blaming your child or yelling at him or her, consider whether it might be best to wait a few days before discussing the matter.

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