Teens with ADHD are more likely to have traffic stops with police than their neuro-typical friends, and now is the time to help your teen deal safely with traffic stops.

“Young drivers with ADHD are more likely to have poor driving than other teenagers, caused by ADHD’s core symptoms of distractibility, inattention and impulsivity. Compared with his peers, your teen with ADHD is at greater risk for vehicle accidents and is more likely to receive traffic tickets for speeding, failure to obey traffic laws, and reckless driving. Teens with ADHD are more likely to drive on a suspended license or without a license when there has been a problem.  https://chadd.org/for-parents/teens-with-adhd-and-driving/

Here are 6 tips on how to prepare yourself and your teen for these encounters.

  1. For Driver: Once you become aware that the police want to stop you, stop, pause and take a deep breath. Don’t do any of the crazy things your impulsive brain is suggesting.  Stop, pull over, keep your hands visible (on the steering wheel) at all times and fully cooperate.  Fleeing, being disrespectful or uncooperative will make things worse and could be dangerous.
  2. For Everyone: Do not say anything unless it’s in response to a question from the officer. If the police officer asks you, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Don’t guess, just say, “No.” They will tell you why they pulled you over. Once they have told you why you were pulled over, don’t argue with them about it.  Pause and think about it.
  3. For Teens: Ask to call your parents, be quiet, respectful and don’t say anything until you have spoken to your attorney.
  4. For Teens: If you forgot to take your medication tell the police officer and your parents that you need your medication.
  5. For Parents: Ask your teen if they are on their medication, if not, bring it to the station in the prescription bottle and request to speak with the person in charge, explain that your child has ADHD and needs their medication, and ask to see your child.  Request that your child not be questioned unmedicated and without counsel. Get the officer’s name to whom you make this request and document the time the request was made.
  6. For Parents: If you have reason to believe that your child will be questioned or stopped by the police, you should retain an attorney in advance so that when you go to the station, you can provide the police officers with the attorney’s contact information. Your teen should always carry the attorney’s contact information on the attorney’s phone listed under contacts as “attorney” so that the information can be easily retrieved.

It is important that you find an attorney who is knowledgeable about ADHD and how it impacts your child (and you).  If you cannot find a knowledgeable attorney in your area, then find one who is willing to take the time to become educated and knowledgeable about ADHD and its impacts.

Encounters with law enforcement officials can be very stressful and dealing with them presents several challenges to a person with ADHD including:  (a) planning ahead, (b) controlling emotions and (c) remembering not to say anything without counsel and (d) not losing the attorney contact information.  Preparing in advance for these encounters by having thoughtful conversations with your teen and discussing responses for different possible situations will help your teen deal with traffic stops safely and uneventfully.

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