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Baltimore Criminal Law Blog

When should you talk to kids about alcohol? You'd be suprised

If you're the parent of young children and are thankful that you don't yet have to deal with the potential problem of underage drinking, think again. According to a recently-released report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should start talking to their kids about the dangers of drinking before they're 10 years old.

The AAP's recommendation coincides with that of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). That group's research has found that many kids have at least tried alcohol by the time they're in middle school. However, only a third of parents say that they didn't address drinking with their children until they were in high school.

How parents can help keep their teen drivers safe

If you have a teen driver in the family (particularly if it's a son), you know how expensive it is to get auto insurance for them. That's because statistics show that teen drivers are the most likely age group to be involved in car crashes.

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. However, they're even more likely to kill others when they're behind the wheel.

Football season: Understanding the rules of tailgating

Tailgating:  A time-honored tradition among college students and alumni alike. A time to enjoy food, drinks and games outside the stadium before the game – because nothing says “I’m a true fan,” like dressing up in your college’s colors and going to root on your favorite team.

The thing about tailgating though, is that while it is 100 percent legal to do, you still have to follow certain rules and laws. The parking lot is not a free-for-all, even if you see other people getting wild. 

What is 'stealthing?'

Most people have probably never heard the term "stealthing." However, two members of Congress contend that it is sexual assault and should be dealt with by lawmakers. Stealthing occurs when someone, either a man or woman, removes a condom while having sex unbeknownst to their partner.

The practice gained some notoriety early this year in a report published in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. The authors addressed the possibility of legal ramifications since it could lead to pregnancy or a sexually-transmitted disease.

Underage drunk drivers can pay a big price in Maryland

The fact that it's illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol doesn't prevent young people under that age -- many of them still in their teens -- from drinking and then taking the wheel. While just 10 percent of drivers are under 21, these drivers account for 17 percent of fatal crashes involving alcohol.

Unfortunately, the statistics here in Maryland reflect this troubling national picture. One in three drivers who are killed in our state in alcohol-related crashes are not yet 24 years old.

Study: Teens today are less likely to drink

Maryland parents may find some reassurance in a recently-published study that found that teens are increasingly delaying drinking alcohol. This finding is backed up by a drop in the number of alcohol and drug-related vehicle accidents involving young drivers between 16 and 20 years old. According to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, it dropped from over 1,100 in 2002 to fewer than 400 in 2014.

The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says that awareness by parents of the dangers of underage drinking may play a role in this positive trend. This awareness, coupled with more tools available to help parents talk to teens, gives them an advantage that their parents didn't have. She says, "I don't think parents knew enough back then. They didn't want their kids to drink, but parents didn't know enough about how to start that conversation."

Preventing underage drinking on Halloween

If you have a teen who's planning to throw a Halloween party at your home, it's essential to ensure that there is no alcohol. Just because you don't serve it, that doesn't mean that someone won't sneak it in.

That's why parents need to provide supervision for their kids' parties. You don't have to be in the middle of it. However, let everyone know that you're around, that you'll be passing through occasionally, and that you're on the premises.

What is a Passive Alcohol Sensor?

If you're one of the many Baltimore residents who drives into Northern Virginia regularly or even occasionally for business or other reasons, it's important to know about a tool that Fairfax County police have to help determine whether a driver has been drinking. You may not even know that they're using it.

It's called the Passive Alcohol Sensor (PAS), but it's also commonly referred to as "The Sniffer." It looks like the regular flashlights that police carry, but it contains a small sensor that officers can activate when they stop a driver whom they have reason to suspect may be under the influence — and even if they don't.

A DUI can have consequences for your college career and beyond

When teens go away to college, they leave most of their parental restrictions behind. For many young people, that leads to some missteps, like staying out late partying when they have a test the next day. Some missteps are far more serious, like drinking and driving.

Alcohol is readily available on and around most college campuses, whether you're old enough to legally drink or not. Too many college students, even if they don't abuse alcohol, have a few drinks at a party, restaurant, bar or a friend's place and then get behind the wheel because they have to get back to their dorm or apartment. Many young people get their first DUI in college.

Cocaine still a popular drug choice among college students

The reason behind deciding to use stimulants – such as cocaine -- in college varies from student to student.  Some view uppers as a way to stay awake and cram for studying, while for others the boost of energy makes them feel invincible and more outgoing, a perceived benefit at parties. Yet for others, using is just a continuation of behavior that started before college.

Whatever the underlying reason is – cocaine use is prevalent among college students.