Parents' role in teen driving citations

Parents typically laud their children's achievements and developmental milestones. But there is one rite of passage for teens that often gives parents' pause — their teens passing the driving test and getting a Florida driver's license.

Driving is a privilege that comes weighted with much responsibility for both teenagers and older adults. But with teens, parents also play a role in determining whether they belong behind the wheel.

Parents, teens and driving privileges

Many parents don't realize that they have the right to rescind their minor children's driver's licenses if their children are driving irresponsibly.

Here in Florida and elsewhere, parents must sign a consent form for minor teens to get a legal driver's license. By the same token, the parent who signs this form can rescind their responsibility and have their teen's driver's license canceled.

The point system

Teenagers who accumulate over five points on their driver's licenses in a single year get their licenses restricted. For the following year or until they reach 18 — whichever occurs first — they will drive legally only for business purposes. Should they rack up more points during this restricted licensing period, the restrictions are extended three months for each point.

Underage drinking and driving don't mix

Florida has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. Anyone caught behind the wheel with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .02 percent or higher face immediate license suspension for a period of six months. Second offenders face a year's suspension. Those who refuse to submit to BAC tests receive an automatic year's suspension of driving privileges. Refuse twice? Go 18 months without driving.

Should your teen fight a traffic ticket?

It's one thing for parents to take a hard line against reckless teenage driving. It's quite another to believe that a police officer is infallible when issuing violations to teen drivers (or any drivers). Police can and do make mistakes, and simply being issued a traffic citation does not equal guilt.

If your teen driver gets cited for speeding, running a red light or any other violation of Florida traffic laws, it's time for a frank discussion between you and your teen. You may discover that your teen was unfairly targeted, racially profiled or simply that an honest mistake was made.

If such is the case, as parents, it is incumbent upon you to take the necessary actions to help your teen defend themselves against the traffic violation for which they were cited.

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