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18 year old driving.... without a license!

Posted by on Jun. 11, 2012 at 7:14 AM
  • 16 Replies

Hi everyone!  I haven't been on CM for ages... but a couple of years back, you were a great help with problems with my DD who was a wild woman at 14, but now a well balanced 16 yr old.

Now my issues are with my son who is 18, and a sr. in HS.  Let me first say, we live in Europe... so kids drink earlier (pretty much from 16 on, and fully legal at 18) and drive at 18 (but also have programs to drive with parents from 16-18).   Sorry... it's a long one!!

So, my 18 year old is smart and had gotten great grades in 10th, but slipped a bit in 11th and now just sailing through to get a passing grade to finish the year.... doesn't study, but ensures us he knows enough to pass. 

He's never been a big talker, but has gotten extremely quiet, short when we talk.  Says little or nothing about going to college next year ... picked one, but has no real arguments on one vs. the other.

The real problem is that he is developping a history for really dangerous behaviour... in spite of clear warnings, etc.

A few years back in Jr. HS, he got caught graffit'ing at school... in spite of the fact we agreed to buy him markers and frames, etc. for him to draw, etc... and we clearly discussed the pbs of graffiti.. he did it anyway; got turned into the cops... and the school dropped charges when we paid for the cleanup (and he reimbursed us from bday money he had).

Now, a few years later... I see the same pattern.  A friend of a friend was killed having taking a car while she wasn't yet a licensed driver.  A cousin has also take his mom's car without having a licence... fortunately no damage to the car (but broke mailboxes, etc)....  so for sure, when we started the driving accompany program, the rules were made clear again!

And as an example, one day I said to him... stop cutting classes, etc - You can't follow rules and I bet too you'll decided to drive drunk even if you know it's wrong.  He says... No, that's illegal; cutting classes is not!?!   The kid knows what is legal, what is not!

Well, a few weeks ago, he took one of our cars out... apparently drunk, supposedly alone (we are trying to verify that)... fortunately, only got to the end of the street where he drove  up on the curb and got a flat. Called some friends, changed the tire... and top it all off, couldn't get the car started, so they pushed it... up a rather step hill, back to where it is parked!?!     Supposedly he was going to see friends on the other side of town...

We learned this from a friend of my daughter, who forunately had the wisdom to tell her parents who told us, cause she realizes how dangerous it is.  

But as we learn this, another friend tells us they saw my son already with my car a few months back, again, just coming down our road, so he stopped him... made him go home, and gave him a lecture and made him promise never to take the car again.  (This is a good friend and one of his former teachers!!)...   Supposedly he was going to pick up his sister on the other side of town (we assumed he never got there...)  Hearing the story, we can't believe he repeated the whole thing a few months later...

But, then learned last night in questioning my DD as to how could she agree to be picked up by her bro without a licence, and she said... I assumed he could drive (ah duh, not legally..) and the way she said it made me realize he had gone to pick her up on the other side of town... and she got in the car with him!!?!?!?    And to make a long story short, she also knows I now refuse to take him driving... he does not listen to our advice, and takes too many risks!

FYI... the laws here are the same!  it is very serious to drive w/o a license and had he injured anyone, besides the emotional damage, they'd take all we have.   

As I said, she is much better these days... generally making good decisions, but obviously, not as good as I thought!

Now, here is my question...  I have thought of a number of dispositions to take (keeping in mind we'd like him to get his license because he is going to live at home and go to a near by college in the fall), but I'd like more ideas on what you think, and how you'd handle the problem!  

We know he drinks occassionally and smokes... probably some weed.  In general, I don't have a major problem with such behaviour as long as it remains 'festive' and exceptional (weekends)... to me there is a big difference with having to smoke a joint to get through the day or have a drink every evening after work... than having an occassional one during a party, etc.  (and respecting DUI laws).   I have never found any drugs around, but I'm suspecting he is drinking or smoking more often than 1x week...  or at least when he does, gets seriously out of control.

It's obviously the fact that the rules and danger we're clear from us, the he was already caught and warned, and continued anyway, and then continued a couple months later (and who knows what will come up as we dig more!)

He knows it's wrong, he always apoligizes and changes... that lasts about 2-4 weeks!    Strange thing is that I haven't gotten any calls this year.. just a few missed classes, bad grades but passing, etc... but no police calls (and the school gets patrolled regularly) nor any other incidents.   So I was cautiously optimistic until now... 

So

1) how would you handle it?

2) does anyone have any thoughts on seeing a DR, and drugs to treat what I see as compulisive behaviour?  Has anyone had success with counseling or drugs to avoid teens from getting out of control? Are such drugs a benefit or a hinderence given the many side affects?  (I'm anticipating what the dr. will say there is some depression and compusion...  that's what I think!)

So before I comment on what I am thinking to do...  I'd appreciate your suggestions and input!

by on Jun. 11, 2012 at 7:14 AM
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Replies (1-10):
02nana07
by Ida on Jun. 11, 2012 at 8:43 AM
1 mom liked this

 I would be concerned about both the drugs and drinking and look into getting him into rehab while you still have the option.  They will do counseling there if it is needed.

I would also make sure there is no way for him to take your car and if you find out he does call the police and report it stolen let him suffer the consequences and he will remember next time he wants to take it.  You didn't say but does he have any consequences to drinking, drugs, or stealing your car I assume he doesn't or he wouldn't do it again. 

 

fantasticfour
by Grumpy on Jun. 11, 2012 at 8:57 AM
3 moms liked this

First of all, where are you when he is taking the car?  Home, work, errands?  Either way I would make sure that the keys are not readily accessable.  Keep them ON you.   I would also insist that he get a job if he is going to be driving, he saves up for his own car, pays his own insurance, etc.  He should be doing those things before even lettign progress to getting into a car without you.  I don't say this as a normal situation but in yours yes.  Kids take care of things more when they have to purchase them with their own money.

lnrmom
by on Jun. 11, 2012 at 9:41 AM
3 moms liked this

I live in the US and am not familiar with the laws in Europe. But my first would be to get him his license because 1) he's not going to stop driving, and 2) it's probably a good idea. But I would address the drinking and drugs use.

Here in the states you're legally an adult at 18. So if it were my child, some tough love would be coming down hard like a hammer. He'd be on the street. If he wanted to continue to act like that and STEAL my vehicles, he'd be gone. Plain and simple. You want to act irresponsible? Go do it on someone else's dime. Not that I wouldn't be a worried wreck, but sometimes you have to let kids learn lessons on their own.

If you don't want to put him out, then have him volunteer at a homeless shelter so he can see first hand the path he is taking (this is my answer to a lot of issues.... ). Drugs and alcohol can lead there, or it might not, but the point is utilizing some scare tactics.

I can see that depression MIGHT be a possibility, but more than likely he's just testing the waters and pushing his limits. I seriously doubt adding drugs to the mix will help, but some tough love and serious scare tactics might. 

cat4458
by Bronze Member on Jun. 11, 2012 at 10:04 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting fantasticfour:

First of all, where are you when he is taking the car?  Home, work, errands?  Either way I would make sure that the keys are not readily accessable.  Keep them ON you.   I would also insist that he get a job if he is going to be driving, he saves up for his own car, pays his own insurance, etc.  He should be doing those things before even lettign progress to getting into a car without you.  I don't say this as a normal situation but in yours yes.  Kids take care of things more when they have to purchase them with their own money.

I agree with this.  I was thinking this too.  How is he getting the keys to the car or did he make keys on his own or something?  Driving without a license & you know he got drunk, crashed your car in the past, etc?!?!

sunflowers12
by on Jun. 11, 2012 at 10:58 AM
1 mom liked this
It really your call.. but when I discovered my two oldest were making some of theses same choices I say its time to move out... I still have four younger kids to raise so to me the drugs n drinking n sex are adult behaviors and if your old enough to do them them your old enough for your own apartment... So that what my dds 20/18 did at the time they were 19/17 young yes, but I moved out if my home country at 17 n got married to my dh so to me an apartment down the road a couple of miles is not so bad... I love my kids as you love yours but apart of loving our kids is understanding that sometimes they are going to mess up and have to pay for the crime... My 18 year old does some of the things you mentioned, but she also knows that if she gets cought she is going to pay the price... Now my dds are graduated both work and have sense they were 16 both in college and so they do have their crap together in these areas... They both pay their own bills and cars n everything... So what you could try is a little tough love if he is going to stay in your home them he should be working n get his license so he can drive to work n school other them that I am not real sure what else too can do.. but this is me you do what you feel is right:)
lazyd
by Bronze Member on Jun. 11, 2012 at 4:56 PM
3 moms liked this

Im sorry but it sounds like your son has depression and needs counseling/therapy.  I would be concerned about the drug/alcohol use, not just the driving.  Why is your son NOT licensed yet??  He is 18.  Secondly take ALLLLthe keys away for each car and hide alllll keys, let him just have a house key!!  Now, since he is 18, if he learns to hot wire the cars, than he is STEALING the cars and you can call the cops on him!!  If you need to have him do errands for you than he needs to get licensed and STOP the drug/alcohol use! 

annie2244
by Silver Member on Jun. 11, 2012 at 10:40 PM
1 mom liked this

Welcome back PhillyinFrance! We missed you. I agree with the advice to keep your keys on you. I'd have written down rules for what daily behavior gets you increased privileges and responsibility for the day(cell, use of laptop, a ride somewhere not necessary, and anything related to getting a license or once he has a license, then use of the car), and rules for what will allow him to keep living with you once he graduates (which is now, is that right?) For example, if you want to live with the rents, you don't take things w/o permission, you don't break laws, you are a full time student and on breaks working at least part time, you pay for all your personal stuff except room/food/tuition/books, you clean your room plus 2 common rooms every weekend, you do your own laundry, you let us know roughly when you'll be home every day. 3 strikes and you can go live somewhere else.

I think it's really important that you have laid out specifically what behaviors allow him to keep living with you, and which get him shown the door, to fund life independently. It sounds like he will have some missteps before he finds his footing in life, but it will take longer for him to be responsible if you shield him from taking responsibility. For example, if you're not yet a hs grad and are under age 18, then I'll keep my keys on me to prevent you from stealing my car, and have restrictions on privileges as consequences to try to get you to grow up.  But if you're a hs grad and age 18, I'm not living with an adult offspring who's steals my car!

PhillyinFrance
by on Jun. 12, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Thank you all!  Essentially, I think you're answers are in line with my thinking.  I should say "our' thinking... I am married, but in fact, I think my DH doesn't quite get the depth of the problem... fortunately, us smart mom's do!   I have warned my DH and even my DD that this is going to be long... this kid hasn't learned from his mistakes in the past; we can't let him off the hook or let our guard down.

Long story, but he doesn't have his license becuase he had to drive for one year with an adult... and he took so long to pass the written exam, he'll be 18.5 when he can take the driver test this summer.  We are going to have him do that, and my husband has agreed to work with him.    He is accepted to a nearby college in the fall, and will live at home... so I want to try to make sure that if he stays in line, he can get to school and all.

But we have said that at a minimum we will do monthly drug tests to keep the car.  I had a dr appt for me, then later with him to see how that can be arranged (what drugs can be detected and what frequency for test).  As I say, I guess i can't stop him from drinking at the last minute, but what I can prevent, I will... so if I am paying for the car and insurance while he goes to school, he has to prove he can at least not smoke. Obviously, if there are any drug or drinking issues... he'll be taking the (very long) bus ride to college.

I am also going to talk to the dr about counseling.  I think there are too many signs that inspite of knowing right from wrong, being confronted, having time to think after the first incident.... he just keeps going.   He is a big risk taker, and it doesn't seem to be getting with age.  I feel like he has compulsions he just doesn't control and that he spends little or no time thinking about the future and consequence of his actions.

I am buying a safe and we'll lock up the keys; we are also going to lock up money.  I have no evidence he taking money from wallets, but it wouldn't surprise me.  And I don't want him to have any more than the strict minimum.

And yes, like a few of you have said... I have announced to everyone that I will be the one to turn him in if he does this or anything else illegal again!   He's a danger to himself, us, and innocent bystanders... and I won't live with that on my conscience!  I'd rather see my kid in jail than crying, regretfully, over killing someone in a car accident (and see the victim's family).    It's a pretty extreme stance where we live, but I will do it. 

Its hard to put a kid out on the street here... they have no hope of working;  few jobs, bad economy.. they need some kinds of skills, so we told him he has year of probation... he has to get decent grades and no major incidents or illegal behaviour.    I'm really hoping college will be an opportunity for him to change.  I have already discussed with him the fact he has a chance to chose new friends, make new habits, so in a way, maybe the timing of all this isn't bad.

We have taken away his phone, and he finishes school in 2 weeks.  I'm not sure how we are going to handle thisall this summer... I don't want to ground him completely for the simple reason I cannot verify it as I work,... but 1) I will take a leave of absence if I do need to tighten down and 2) if he goes out anywhere where I think he might drink, etc. we will be the ones to pick him up, etc.  I think he is going to have very limit used of the car, but on the other hand, I do want to test him and let him get experience before he starts college in the fall.  He will not have access to the car while I'm working... that's for sure!

My last question is this... what would you say or do relative to his friends???  I want to confront them... I don't think it is their fault, but I think they underestimated the whole situation... now one told us (except a friend of my DDs who I think realized my DD would be affect by his dumb actions).     I don't necessarily want to agress them but I do want to let them know they could have/should have done more!   They should have told him to tell us within the following week, or they'd tell us...   Most of these kids are good family friends.  I'm heartbroken but not surprised they didn't tell us... but is it worth being the crazy mom that lectures them?  I don't know If I won't post a note on FB... a little speech about how friends are not the ones who cover up you tracks; they are the ones who stop you from doing something illegal; friends are not those who call you to tell you the cops are at the next intersection doing alcohol tests; friends are those that convince you to call your parents if you drink , etc. etc.  

My DD didn't turn my son in... but that's a long story (she's had a hell of a year bec of him!)  Even now, she says she will.. because she realizes he is putting us and her in danger.  And I think she wasn't against her friend turning him in when the friend rationalized that "if he goes and does this again, and kills himself or whatever, we will have on our conscience the fact we knew he had already done this"!

What do you think about that?   Too overboard... or will it get a point across without being counterproductive relative to my son?   My goal isn't to embarass him, but to make sure he and they know he crossed the line and we need their help if he ever does it again (or anyone else!).  Your thoughts?

p.s. You gals on CM are great!  This site has brought me so much sanity and confidence in dealing with my children!!  Thanks for all your input!!!!!!

PhillyinFrance
by on Jun. 12, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Oh, I did forget to answer something... we were out for the evening when this happened.  He was at home, no plans if I recall...   But again, he's 18... and silly me, I just assumed a smart 18 year old wouldn't take car keys and go driving with a license!?!   Apparently it was about 2 weekends ago.

Also, he does have a job for the summer and he will pay for the repairs (flat tire and problem changing gears).    That said... last spring, he ran up a bill of like 700$ on the phone while we were on vac in the states... we told him repeatedly that he can only connect via wifi... int'l phone is very expensive.  Again, he's 17 and knows more about that phone that I do... but he didn't listen.  He did pay the bill with his summer job money, and our last trip he was very careful.  

About drinking... problem is that it is legal here... from about 16 on.   When I say everyone here drinks, I mean everyone...it's a given.  The issue is if he drinks and drives... and given his choices until now, there is a storng possiblity he wil do it inspite of knowing it's illegal.  Obviously, I'm going to try to prevent it... if/when he does go out, I think we will do more dropping off and picking up like we did when he was younger.  It's really what scares me... becuase he will get his license, so at least he can drive legally, but I worry about him driving drunk or getting in the car with someone who is (since his judgement is so poor!) - This is one of the reasons I really want to lecture his friends and use this as a lessons learned!


MrsBLB
by on Jun. 12, 2012 at 4:42 PM

good

Quoting PhillyinFrance:

Thank you all!  Essentially, I think you're answers are in line with my thinking.  I should say "our' thinking... I am married, but in fact, I think my DH doesn't quite get the depth of the problem... fortunately, us smart mom's do!   I have warned my DH and even my DD that this is going to be long... this kid hasn't learned from his mistakes in the past; we can't let him off the hook or let our guard down.

Long story, but he doesn't have his license becuase he had to drive for one year with an adult... and he took so long to pass the written exam, he'll be 18.5 when he can take the driver test this summer.  We are going to have him do that, and my husband has agreed to work with him.    He is accepted to a nearby college in the fall, and will live at home... so I want to try to make sure that if he stays in line, he can get to school and all.

But we have said that at a minimum we will do monthly drug tests to keep the car.  I had a dr appt for me, then later with him to see how that can be arranged (what drugs can be detected and what frequency for test).  As I say, I guess i can't stop him from drinking at the last minute, but what I can prevent, I will... so if I am paying for the car and insurance while he goes to school, he has to prove he can at least not smoke. Obviously, if there are any drug or drinking issues... he'll be taking the (very long) bus ride to college.

I am also going to talk to the dr about counseling.  I think there are too many signs that inspite of knowing right from wrong, being confronted, having time to think after the first incident.... he just keeps going.   He is a big risk taker, and it doesn't seem to be getting with age.  I feel like he has compulsions he just doesn't control and that he spends little or no time thinking about the future and consequence of his actions.

I am buying a safe and we'll lock up the keys; we are also going to lock up money.  I have no evidence he taking money from wallets, but it wouldn't surprise me.  And I don't want him to have any more than the strict minimum.

And yes, like a few of you have said... I have announced to everyone that I will be the one to turn him in if he does this or anything else illegal again!   He's a danger to himself, us, and innocent bystanders... and I won't live with that on my conscience!  I'd rather see my kid in jail than crying, regretfully, over killing someone in a car accident (and see the victim's family).    It's a pretty extreme stance where we live, but I will do it. 

Its hard to put a kid out on the street here... they have no hope of working;  few jobs, bad economy.. they need some kinds of skills, so we told him he has year of probation... he has to get decent grades and no major incidents or illegal behaviour.    I'm really hoping college will be an opportunity for him to change.  I have already discussed with him the fact he has a chance to chose new friends, make new habits, so in a way, maybe the timing of all this isn't bad.

We have taken away his phone, and he finishes school in 2 weeks.  I'm not sure how we are going to handle thisall this summer... I don't want to ground him completely for the simple reason I cannot verify it as I work,... but 1) I will take a leave of absence if I do need to tighten down and 2) if he goes out anywhere where I think he might drink, etc. we will be the ones to pick him up, etc.  I think he is going to have very limit used of the car, but on the other hand, I do want to test him and let him get experience before he starts college in the fall.  He will not have access to the car while I'm working... that's for sure!

My last question is this... what would you say or do relative to his friends???  I want to confront them... I don't think it is their fault, but I think they underestimated the whole situation... now one told us (except a friend of my DDs who I think realized my DD would be affect by his dumb actions).     I don't necessarily want to agress them but I do want to let them know they could have/should have done more!   They should have told him to tell us within the following week, or they'd tell us...   Most of these kids are good family friends.  I'm heartbroken but not surprised they didn't tell us... but is it worth being the crazy mom that lectures them?  I don't know If I won't post a note on FB... a little speech about how friends are not the ones who cover up you tracks; they are the ones who stop you from doing something illegal; friends are not those who call you to tell you the cops are at the next intersection doing alcohol tests; friends are those that convince you to call your parents if you drink , etc. etc.  

My DD didn't turn my son in... but that's a long story (she's had a hell of a year bec of him!)  Even now, she says she will.. because she realizes he is putting us and her in danger.  And I think she wasn't against her friend turning him in when the friend rationalized that "if he goes and does this again, and kills himself or whatever, we will have on our conscience the fact we knew he had already done this"!

What do you think about that?   Too overboard... or will it get a point across without being counterproductive relative to my son?   My goal isn't to embarass him, but to make sure he and they know he crossed the line and we need their help if he ever does it again (or anyone else!).  Your thoughts?

p.s. You gals on CM are great!  This site has brought me so much sanity and confidence in dealing with my children!!  Thanks for all your input!!!!!!


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