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

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... 


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
Replies (11-16):
by on Jun. 12, 2012 at 4:46 PM
1 mom liked this

Quoting 02nana07:

 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. 


Yes, I am right over your shoulder on this one.

by on Jun. 13, 2012 at 9:48 PM

I would talk to my kid's friends about what behavior I need from them to be safe themselves and not endanger my kid when with them, and what behaviors I think they should expect from each other to help each other not do stupid things. My oldest is 16 and her friends are just starting to drive, and I know I'll be having chats with my kid's friends to verify that they are being safe when on the road, and that any of them will speak up if the driver isn't paying attention or in a condition to drive. I'm sure my kid will be mortified. I can live with that! I can't live with her dead, and I never had the chat with them all.

When my oldest heads off to college, we're going to need to write out the conditions by which we'll continue to pay for college and her living on campus (like passing her classes and not getting arrested or disciplined), and the conditions for living at home during summers (like not arguing constantly with us about some basic rules). The nice thing about if one has to pull temporarily the ability for a young adult to live at home or have tuition paid for, is it's temporary! You can restart school after a semester or a yr off, or move back in after the same amount of time, if you want to try again, and I hope you do! Pre-agreed conditions for withholding these privileges allows fair warning, and prevents parents from sponsoring bad behavior, and lets kids have a do-over, after a period of reflection (and suffering the eye opening sucky realities of funding life independently without a degree).

I don't think I'd call the cops on him at this point. If charged as an adult, felony car theft would screw up his life pretty permanently. Kinda hard to get a job when you have to check the felony box on an application. I would hide my keys, get him into therapy, have a talk or two with his friends, and if it happens again, have him move out.

by on Jun. 22, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Thanks for all your feedback!   I've been digesting the whole thing over the last few weeks.  His exams are over so we let him out for dinner with friends tonight, but then he'll be punished for a few weeks.  I want him to realize he will spend a couple of weeks in the house... but he could have been in jail or in the hospital... so home is looking good.

He has a dr appt, but from what I told him, the dr doesn't think it isn't a mental or drug issue, but he's going to see.   In fact, since he is 18, I can't make him do any tests, etc... so all I can do is set the rules.   (Of course, I am assuming and I do have many reasons to believe he is not addicted to any drugs... etc. If that is the case, I'l revise my plans even further).

So yes, we're going to set specific conditions I wasn't planning previous... like regular drug testing to ensure he isn't smoking, and when he is driving, when he comes home, he'll do an alcohol test.   And if he can't follow the rules for those basics, and later for college...  there is no car and no college.    And in the coming weeks when he is grounded, I'm also going to add a day for every attempt to contest it.

I haven't decided on the phone... I htink I will continue to keep it when he is grounded - he needs a big reminder that we pay for that thing.  He has a sad habit of not even using it to keep us updated on his whereabouts... so a reality check is in order.

He also has a few weeks of worked linked up, including two weeks being a mason's assistant... so he'll get the money to pay for the damage to the car.

And we bought a small safe and will lock up keys and money.   But I also want to be discrete about it... just make it a routine.

So, I haven't yet talked to the kids but I will (they all had big tests this week).   I don't blame them, but I want them to realize how dangerous it could be.   They are all good friends with his sister... and I think I will try to highlight that his poor choices can ruin her life.   Originally, I was really agressive and was almost going to blast them on FB... but I think it will be better to talk to them as adults.

This site is brillant, and I have gotten so much strength and courage from everyone.  I'll try to check back regularly, and provide a bit of support to others...   Sincere thanks to you all and the creators of the site!

by on Jun. 22, 2012 at 10:39 PM

I would not get him his license if you know he's been drinking and driving and taking your cars.  I know some would argue that he's going to do it anyway, so why add the driving without a license charge - but at least you're not helping him drink and drive.  If he's of legal age, he should be responsible to get his own license and take responsiblity.  I personally would never help a kid get a license when he's clearly proven he is not responsible enough to handle it. 

Also, there are many things you can do to prevent him from taking your car.  No access to keys, extra lock bar for the steering wheel, secret kill switch- even a breathalyzer to start the car.  Do NOT give him an access to your vehicles. 

Yes, I would think about family counseling.  He has to understand the consequences of his behaviors and choices before he kills someone.

by on Jun. 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM

I also would not hesitate to turn my kid in if he stole my car after clearly being warned.

by on Jun. 26, 2012 at 8:29 AM

DarlaHood... you are right, but on the other hand he needs a car to go to college (bus is possible, but very impractical).   He hasn't been otherwise in trouble for a few years, so I don't want to lock him up or cut him off from all opportunities to better himself (at least not yet!)

And that said, we at least know what our kid is up to... so many parents don't have a clue!   Our son has even told us that everyone (and I think he is sincere)... whether a good or bad student, is smoking pot at parties, etc....  And most are driving....  

So we sent him to see the Dr who all in all isn't particularly concerned (seems to be a rather typical teen, and really, the more we've told our story, the more crazier stories come out) but gave him an prescription for a drug test   The law is the law, and he has been warned of the consequences by us and the dr many times, and we have explained he is 18... it's going to be his problem, not ours!   He's currently grounded -  and will be working in a few weeks to pay for the damage he caused (we found him a job on a construction site... he's going to love carrying those bags of cement and running around getting tools for the macons!) 

After that... there there is our rules.  If he wants the car and insurance we pay for, he's going to prove he's not smoking by taking regular drug tests, and when he comes home from a party, we'll do a breathalayzer - if he isn't clean, he won't get the car for a month or til there is a cleand drug test      At least the rules and facts are incontestable - I don't even want to debate it or discuss it.   (Some friends told us to check his pupils with a flashlight... but hey I'm not a Dr and I don't want something that isn't 100% accurate).  I'm tired of negotiating, discussing, etc... it's worn us all down!

He's told my husband he doesn't want to take the drug test....  so until that changes, the car is in the drive way, and the keys are our brand new safe....

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