Millions of people drive drunk in America, risking their own life and the lives of anyone else on the road. If someone you love has taken another person's life in a drunk driving accident, their world—and yours—is shattered. Although you may be caught between the sadness and shock of the incident, you're still left with the responsibility of supporting your loved one through the personal and legal battles they're now facing.
Hire The Best DUI Attorney You Can Find
It is imperative that a person charged with DUI manslaughter retains an experienced lawyer immediately. Life will quickly become very complicated, with decisions and statements to be made, but nothing should be done without the advice of legal counsel. Do whatever you have to do to hire the best and most experienced lawyer specializing in alcohol-related offenses. Even if the evidence is all pointing towards the guilt of your loved one, a legal team needs quick access to all the details of the case in order to represent the defendant properly and obtain answers to the most vital questions:
- Was the breathalyzer or field sobriety test conducted legally and accurately?
- Will the case involve misdemeanor or felony charges, and if a felony charge will be made, can the grounds for it be disputed?
- Were there other factors contributing to the accident, such as weather, mechanical failures, etc.?
- Was the defendant influenced by something other than alcohol, like a medical condition or prescription medication?
It's next to impossible for a defendant surrounded by the shock and ire of a DUI-related death to think clearly and act in their own best interest. Amidst the blur and sorrow of what's happened, they need someone knowledgeable acting on their behalf from the onset of the tragedy. Contact DUI attorneys for help.
Protect Them From Public Persecution
Because your loved one will most likely be overcome with grief and remorse over what they've done, they may need to be protected from the public, especially if the case is well known and people are verbalizing their outrage. When a life is lost suddenly to a DUI, those closest to the victim are devastated, and their anger is to be expected; however, that can easily spill over into the entire community.
Limit the time your loved one spends out in public and avoid all contact with the media. Listen to lawyers and don't respond to people's yelling or accusations if such situations are encountered.
Stop Them From Self-Medicating The Agony With More Alcohol
Even though the family of the DUI victim is mourning, the perpetrators of such crimes are often grief-stricken as well and can easily fall into the pattern of drinking away their guilt and remorse. Many spend the rest of their lives in regret, leaving them vulnerable to substance abuse. Ask your friend to seek counseling with a professional or guidance from a church so that they, too, can learn to get over the tragedy.
Get Them Alcohol Counseling If Needed
Although not every DUI involves an alcoholic, the fact that someone was driving drunk obviously indicates poor judgment. If your loved one needs treatment for alcoholism, encourage them to seek it as early as possible. Doing so may demonstrate to the court that your friend is aware of their problem and willing to do something about it, albeit after the fact of an accident and the subsequent harm it caused.
The lawyer representing your loved one will help you decide if counseling is warranted or if entrance into a rehab program would be appropriate to the case; it's up to the defendant and perhaps those who support them to be honest about substance abuse and how to address it effectively.
Help Them Move Somewhere They Can Be Anonymous
While pending charges would likely prevent your loved one from moving out of the jurisdiction where they were arrested, especially if they're out on bond, moving to another location within the state may help them to become anonymous again, and that can be a big help towards restoring normalcy in their life. Ask the courts or attorneys involved if the move is allowed, then advise your friend to pack their bags and go somewhere they won't be immediately known for their pending crime.
Prior to a conviction, the accident and arrest don't have to be reported on a job application, unless the potential employer specifically asks about pending charges (which would be unusual). Moving, even temporarily, can ease some of the stress and help a person think more clearly, without feeling as if they're constantly under a microscope.
Make Sure They Fight For Their Own Best Interests In Court
Riddled with guilt over having taken the life of another person, a DUI defendant may feel like surrendering themselves to the complete mercy of the court, but that's not in their long-term best interests. If they're receiving counseling for the tragedy, try to help them focus on the defense they're entitled to under the law. Their DUI attorney will recognize the signs of deep remorse; however, there may be extenuating circumstances which can lead to a full acquittal or an offer by the prosecutor to plea to lesser charges. As difficult as the situation may be and as much as your loved one may feel like they deserve the maximum punishment, let the lawyer fight for the best possible outcome.
Throughout all of this, you may need support and outside help. Dealing with the fact that someone you love is responsible for another's death is hard enough, but seeing them through is a burden of conflict and complications nobody is prepared for. Reach out to the lawyers representing your loved one, asking them what you can do to stay strong and on course. You may need to join a group of individuals who've gone through what you're facing, or you may benefit from personal counseling, which might help rebuild your resilience. It's a tough situation for everyone involved, no matter how the court case unfolds.