Archive for December, 2013

How to Prevent Your Teen Underage Drinking and Driving

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

As a parent of a teenager you worry about so many things. Even if you have complete and utter confidence that you have raised a mature and responsible young adult, the fact is that teens combat a ton of peer pressure to drink on a daily basis. One of scariest days of a parent’s life is the day the parent hands over the keys to the family car to his or her teen. A teen’s excitement over his or her new found freedom, combined with the awesome responsibility of driving and the teen’s lack of driving experience would make any parent nervous. But those facts, coupled with the statistic that 1 in 12 high school drink and drive can be down-right terrifying for a parent.

However, parents should take heart they still play an extremely influential role of in the lives of their teenage children. Even better news is that there are things every parent can do to reduce the likelihood that their teen chooses to drink and drive. The following are a few tips to help you reduce your teen’s risk:

  1. Have an ongoing conversation with your teen: The best thing any parent can do to prevent their teen from drinking and driving is to have a conversation with them about underage drinking. Make sure that you teen understands where you stand on this issue and that he or she understands the consequences from you and from the law for underage drinking. Keep the lines of communication open and revisit the topic frequently with your teen.
  2. Start early: Do not wait to have the conversation with your child until the day before you hand him or her the car keys. Start early. Experts recommend starting as early as middle school. If you wait until he or she enters high school you run the risk that the conversation may be too late and that your child has already had an encounter with underage drinking.
  3. Remember that you are a role model: Has your child seen you drink alcohol or drink and drive? Remember that from little on your child is watching and learning from not only the things you say, but the things you do. Make sure that you are being a proper role model for your child.
  4. Friends are key: Your teen may think he or she can resist the pressure to drink alcohol but could he or she resist if his or her best friend decides to drink? The biggest risk factor for a teen electing to drink underage is having a best friend who drinks. As a parent, it is important to get to know your child’s friends and the parents of these children as well.
  5. Develop a game plan: More than likely your teen is going to encounter a situation where other teens are drinking. It is not enough just to tell your teen not to drink. He or she needs to have a game plan in place when this type of situation presents itself. One suggestion is for your teen to have a safe word or phrase that he or she can say to you on the telephone or text to you, that alerts you that he or she is a bad situation. Maybe the plan can be, if your teen says the safe word, then you “demand” that he or she come home. Maybe the story is that he or she failed to do something like clean their bedroom, complete a chore, or take a sibling shopping). This way your teen has an “exit” and can “blame” the whole thing on you.

If you are a parent whose teenager has been charged DUI, he or she needs an experienced Kansas criminal defense attorney. The Whitman Law Offices have been defending both teenagers and adults in DUI and other alcohol related matters in Lawrence and Northeast Kansas for over 35 years. Seasoned attorney Charles E. Whitman, will take the time to carefully explain your son or daughter’s rights under the law and evaluate his or her legal options. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 or visit us online. Do not let your teenager’s mistake cost him or her their future, call us today.

Lawrence Kansas DUI Attorney Says to Parents: Set Your Teen Straight about Drinking & Driving

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Whether your teenager is in high school, attending college away from home or has entered the work force, one thing remains the same, teens are under a lot of peer pressure to drink alcohol. This combined with the fact that we live in a very car-dependent society, creates the potential reality for parents that at some point their teen may drink and drive. However, just because some teens choose to drink and drive does not mean that a parent must accept this fate for their teen. Rather they are things any parent can do to prevent his or her teenager from drinking and driving. The first step is to sit down and have a real conversation with your teenager about the issue of drinking and driving. During a frank chat with your teen on the subject, you may be shocked to learn the myths and misconceptions your teen may have about drinking and driving. Here are three of the most common myths that teenagers hold true about drinking and driving and tips for how you can set your teenager straight.

“I won’t get caught”: Most teenagers are under the mindset that bad things happen to other people. It may sound downright irresponsible to an adult, but many teens truly believe that they are invincible—a feeling that may become stronger when the teen is under the influence of alcohol. If your teen is operating under this myth, you need to give him or her a large dose of reality. Make sure that he or she is aware of these alarming statistics:

    • Teenage drivers are 3 times more likely than adults to be involved in a fatal crash and teens who under the influence of alcohol are at an even greater risk.
    • Drivers between ages 16 and 20 are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol content at .08 than compared to drivers who are sober.

“I sobered up, so I am okay to drive”: Teenagers often have the mistaken belief that there are things a person can do to “sober up”. A teen might think if they drink lots of water or have a cup of strong black coffee, eat a big meal or take a cold shower that they will become sober and therefore, okay to drive. Explain to your teenager than there is no quick fix to become sober. The only thing that will lower a person’s blood alcohol content is time. Things like caffeine and a cold shower may make a person who has been drinking feel more alert—but in reality the person is just as intoxicated as before.

“I am not drunk, I am just buzzed”: How a teenager defines “drunk driving” may be very different from how the law defines the term. Many teenagers are under the misconception that if they can walk without staggering or talk without slurring their speech, that they are not “drunk” and therefore, okay to drive. Make sure your teen understands that buzzed driving is drunk driving. Explain to him or her that intoxication begins with the first drink, which can impair judgment, memory, and reaction time, all things that are critical to safely operate a motor vehicle. You will also want to remind your teen that it is against the law for a person who has not yet attained the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle after having consumed any amount of alcohol.

If you are a parent of a child who has been charged with underage drinking or DUI, you need an experienced Kansas criminal defense attorney. The Whitman Law Offices has been representing clients on alcohol related offenses in Lawrence and Northeast Kansas for over 35 years. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call (785) 843-9460 or visit us online. Do not trust your child’s future to just any attorney. Attorney Charles E. Whitman will take the time carefully review the facts of your child’s case and make sure that all possible defenses are explored.

Lawrence Kansas DUI Attorney Offer Tips for Keeping Your Resolution to Not Drink & Drive

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

On December 31st, you likely made your list of New Year’s Resolutions and similar to many others, felt as if this was the year you would accomplish them all. However, by late January you noticed that many of your resolutions had fallen by the wayside while others never even got off the ground. If you think you are alone, think again. Most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February 1st.  But just because the majority of New Year’s resolutions never live to see March, it does not mean you should not make resolutions. Regardless, if it is December 31th, April 12th or August 3rd, any day is a good day to resolve not to drink and drive. To make sure that you are successful in not drinking and driving in the New Year, follow these tips:

  • Be committed: The reason many goals like vowing to eat healthier or work out more do not succeed is because people do not commit themselves to the goal. Sure everyone thinks they could shed a few pounds, but is it life threatening? Most likely the answer is “no”. Drinking and driving can have serious if not fatal consequences. To make sure that you stick with this resolution, take some time to think about how a DUI or drunk driving accident could affect you, your family, and your friends. Contemplate how this decision could impact your career, your finances and even your reputation.
  • Make a plan: In order to succeed with any resolution you need to do more than proclaim your goal and hope for the best. You need a plan. If your goal is to not drive while under the influence of alcohol, then you need a plan to make sure this does not occur. Before you attend a function where you will be drinking, make a plan. Perhaps the plan is to space out your drinks to no more than one per hour or to take public transportation home.
  • Share your resolution: One way to make sure you keep your resolution is to enlist the help of others. Tell your friends and family members about your resolution and ask them to help hold you accountable. Ask those you trust to approach you and take away your keys if you try to drive and drive. Who knows, your goal may encourage others to join you in your resolution.
  • Have a backup plan: Sometimes even the best plan can go awry. For example, you attend a party and your friend agrees to be the designated driver. Half way through the evening you notice that your friend is drinking. This should not be a problem if you have a back-up plan. For example, maybe you have another friend who could pick you up (another reason to share your resolution) or you could call a cab or walk home.
  • Learn from your mistakes and recommit: You awake one morning to realize that you should not have driven home the previous night. Take some time to think about what went wrong and why your plan and back-up plan failed. Strategize solutions so that it does not happen again. Do not abandon your resolution to not drink and drive—rather remind yourself of why this resolution is so important and recommit yourself.

If you or someone you love is facing DUI charges, you need to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. To schedule your free and confidential consultation, call the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 or visit us online. If needed, we can also arrange to visit you in jail. At the consultation, we will thoroughly review your case with you and make sure that you understand of all of your legal options. Put our law firm’s 35 years of experience to work for you. The Whitman Law Offices is proud to provide superior legal services to clients in Lawrence and Northeast Kansas.

Don’t Let a Kansas DUI Ruin Your Holidays

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The holiday season is here, and your schedule is probably already filling up with plans for gatherings with family and friends, community events, and, of course, the ubiquitous office party. At just about every celebration, there will be many delicious seasonal foods to enjoy, along with plenty of festive beverages. Whether you plan to go to just one affair or several different events over the next few weeks, it is important that you plan ahead to make sure that each one of your outings begins and ends on a joyful note.

Kansas law enforcement officers know that this is a popular time of the year for people to eat, drink, and be merry. The December holiday season is prime time for DUI checkpoints, and for increased numbers of officers patrolling heavily traveled areas during the evening hours. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to avoid getting a DUI this holiday season. If you follow these holiday party safety tips you can have your fruitcake, and drink some eggnog, too.

The best way to avoid getting a DUI this holiday season is to avoid driving if you plan on drinking. Talk to other people who will be attending the same festivities that you plan to go to. There may be one or more guests who plan to be designated drivers, and you might be able to ride with one of them. Alternatively, conduct some research ahead of time to determine what public transportation options exist in your area, and plan to use one of them to get to and from the event.

If your party plans include traveling to a location that is a few hours away, you may want to plan in advance to spend the night at a place within walking distance from the event.  Some companies negotiate special room rates for their employees if they book their holiday parties at a hotel’s banquet facilities. Friends and family may also have a spare bed or couch available, so be sure to ask around.

There may still be situations in which you end up driving home from a party late at night. Perhaps you had arranged for a ride home, but it fell through. Maybe you thought that you would only stop in for an hour, but you ended up staying much later. Whatever the situation is, do your best to enjoy yourself responsibly so that your drive home is both safe and legal.

When you drive home, you may feel like you are sober enough to drive, and that may well be the case. It is still important to avoid attracting any attention from law enforcement officers, so that you will arrive at home without any sort of traffic ticket. Obeying the rules of the road is just one way to keep the police at bay. Checking your vehicle over thoroughly on a regular basis is another way to ensure that you are not selected for a late night traffic stop because of something that could easily have been fixed in advance, like a burnt out turn signal lamp, headlight, or license plate light.

If you do get pulled over, try to remain calm and pleasant. Remember that you have rights, and do not be afraid to provide very little information about where you have been and what you have been doing. You are under no obligation to provide information that could incriminate you.  If, despite your best efforts, you do end up being charged