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Underage drinking and your teen: What can you do to stop it?

There's never a good time for a minor to get caught with alcohol. Possessing alcohol, even if the minor hasn't had any to drink, is a violation of the law. This is a particularly good time to discuss MIP, or Minor in Possession, charges.

With the summer here and football season approaching soon, the reality is that many minors will push the limits and attempt to obtain alcohol. It's important to talk to your children about the risks of doing this now. It's not just for their safety but also for their futures that they need to consider their actions carefully.

What should you discuss with your teen about possessing alcohol?

There are several facts to discuss with your teen including the legal age when he or she may obtain alcohol, the situations where drinking may be legal and the laws regarding purchasing or possessing alcohol.

For instance, you should talk about the legal age of 21 and why the age limit is set so high. The limit helps prevent teens from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, especially because they're still in the early years of learning to drive.

Drinking is legal in certain circumstances. For instance, a parent could allow his or her child to have a glass of wine with dinner in his or her home. That's not going to hurt anyone and is a parent's prerogative. Keep in mind that the teen may not drive with any alcohol in his or her bloodstream.

Finally, talk about possessing and purchasing alcohol. It's illegal under the age of 21, even if the teen isn't drinking. Discussing these facts can help your child make better decisions and avoid a drunk driving charge or other alcohol-based charges.

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