It’s Homecoming time once again, which means that plenty of inexperienced teenage drivers will be on the roads late at night — and inevitably, some of them will have been drinking.

Underage drinking is a major problem all over the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in any given month, more than 26 percent of those between 12 and 20 drank alcohol, and of that group, over 17 percent engaged in dangerous binge-drinking episodes.

Alcohol is still the most popular substance for teens to use, as 72 percent of high school students have had more than a few sips of an alcoholic beverage by the time they graduate. Even more alarming, 37 percent have drunk alcohol by the time they reach eighth grade.

Parents play vital roles in deterring their teens from underage drinking, and so do their peers. That’s why groups like Students Against Destructive Decisions can positively influence teens to make safer, healthier choices when it comes to underage drinking and driving during Homecoming week and always.

Imagine winding up with a criminal record before even being able to get a high school diploma. If a teen is “lucky,” the offense may “only” be a charge of driving under the influence. However, if he or she maims or kills another person due to intoxication behind the wheel, the jail sentence could be harsh and lengthy.

However, it’s not always your teen’s fault when alcohol use is a contributing factor in a serious auto accident. Parents of children who are injured in accidents with impaired drivers of any age, will be responsible for advocating for them so they may receive compensation for their injuries.

Source: SADD.org, “FAQs and Statistics,” accessed Oct. 07, 2016