This is the 3rd post in our series on teen substance abuse by guest blogger Lisa Chinn LMHC, CDP. In this series she offers her perspective as a chemical dependency professional for adolescents.

Over the years, if I received 10 cents (inflation taken into consideration) every time I heard “I drive better when I am smoking weed.” OR “My friend drives better when they are using.” I would be SO MUCH closer to retirement. Ok, all kidding aside, many teens who are using substances actually believe they drive better under the influence. Most teens know they shouldn’t drink and drive, but I’ve encountered many teens who believe they can smoke marijuana and drive. These same teens often believe they drive BETTER when they smoke marijuana. This blog post isn’t about proving whether someone can drive “better or worst” under the influence, but about what happens if your teen gets into an accident. Remember parents: When your teens start to drive, they are under YOUR car insurance.

  1. If it is proven they were under the influence of substances, marijuana or otherwise, they will get a DUI and you run the risk of having your insurance go up or losing your insurance.
  2. If they get into an accident, they would damage you car or someone else’s.  The repairs will cost you money. Your insurance rates will go up and if it is suspected your teen was under the influence, you could lose your insurance or your rates will go up and your teen will not be insurable.
  3. If your teen injures someone, whether they were a passenger in your car or the person(s) in the other car, YOU will be held liable, therefore if the other party desires to sue, they will sue you, NOT your teen. Your teen has nothing and since the insurance is under your name, again, you are liable. And if you were aware your teen was using and you let them drive, this it will put you at higher risk.

Over the years, I have had parents tell me they do not suspect their teen is using, but while in session, the teen will confide that they are indeed using. Because it is important to protect the trust your teen has given me, often times, I will not tell on them. However, I will encourage their parents to do some UAs (urine drug screens) at home as a means of circumventing breaking the therapeutic bond.

If your teen is using substances, the only sure way of knowing whether they are allowed to drive or not is using RANDOM urine drug testing. It would be great to trust their word and believe they have stopped using, but teens who abuse substances tend to minimize their use and often are dishonest about their use, especially with their parents. Doing random drug tests on your teen will give you confidence that when you hand over the car keys, they will be as safe as possible.

In the next post we’ll cover how to talk to your teen about alcohol poisoning.