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Police warning parents: Talk with kids to prevent underage DUIs before prom, graduation

Police warning parents: Talk with kids to prevent underage DUIs before prom, graduation


KENNEWICK, Wash. — Every parent’s worst nightmare nearly came true for multiple families after two car crashes likely involving underage drinking and driving sent two girls to the hospital Saturday morning.

Police said a 16-year-old driver lost control and crashed the van he was driving before taking off on foot.

It happened only a few hours after another crash, where another underage driver lost control in the roundabout at Vancouver and 27th, smashing into a light pole before he and some of his passengers ran off, grabbing a case of beer from the car but leaving two female passengers, one unconscious, for first responders.

Kennewick Police Sergeant Aaron Clem said both crashes involved juvenile drinking and driving.

He’s warning parents these are just the beginning of a historically dangerous time of year for teenage drivers.

“Kid’s don’t tend to have a belief that bad things can happen to them,” he said. “They don’t have the history and the knowledge yet of all of the things that can go wrong when they’re drinking and driving.”

The sergeant said any time you have impaired teens in a car there is potential for serious injuries or even death.

Which is why he said both of the crashes are a good reminder for parents to talk to their teens about what can go wrong.

"Particularly now with prom and graduation coming up,” Clem said. “There's more situations where kids might be drinking alcohol or using drugs and then getting into cars and driving."

He said parents need to let their children know what they expect from them.

And then keep reminding them.

"We need to keep talking to our teens about drinking and driving, and parents need to get involved in their teens life and talk about the hazards, and hopefully that will make an impact."

Clem said drinking and driving isn’t more of a problem in Tri-Cities than anywhere else.

But it is something parents need to be aware of so they can keep their families safe.

The drivers from both crashes were booked into Juvenile Detention, with eight charges between the two cars, but Clem warns minimum charges for kids caught driving under the influence is a DUI on their permanent record.

"I think absolutely talking to your kids makes a difference,” he said. ”If you're involved in a collision and somebody gets injured, those things are going to follow you for the rest of your life."

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