While DWI arrests directly affect the accused, they also take a toll on the offender's family. If you were recently arrested for drunk driving, you may feel anxious, stressed, nervous, and agitated about what's to come.
Yes, thinking about your future and freedom is important. However, you must also think about how the arrest will affect your family.
DWI cases can cause severe fragmentation. If your sentence includes jail time, your family will struggle to cope with your absence, especially if they're financially dependent on you. This article will offer a closer look at how DWI arrests affect families. Keep reading.
1. Your Partner
Your partner will be mentally, emotionally, and financially affected by your DWI case. Your relationship will be impacted if you're required to spend time in prison. If you've established a healthy foundation, your partner will be supportive. However, they will still struggle with your loss, the financial toll of the case, and your public perception across the neighborhood.
People often hold DWI convicts responsible for putting their lives in danger and risking the lives of others (especially if there were children involved). If the accident resulted in a death, there would be greater judgment and vitriol. Since you will be in prison, your partner will have to deal with the bulk of the criticism.
In some cases, partners file for divorce if the couple is married. If you were engaged or dating, the engagement/relationship might come to an end. It's important to note that this process is never easy for the accused's partner. Your partner will also suffer financially if you're heavily fined and imprisoned.
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2. Your Children
Children suffer tremendously when a parent is incarcerated. If you were driving with a child in the vehicle, you will face child endangerment charges and lose custody of your child.
Under Texas law, any child under the age of 15 is considered a child passenger. While a regular DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, a DWI with a child passenger is considered a state jail felony (SJF). Your driver's license will be suspended for 180 days, you'll serve between 180 days and two years in prison, and you'll pay a fine of up to $10,000. Additional penalties include probation, community service, attending an alcohol/drug education course, installing an ignition interlock device in the vehicle, paying additional fees, and so on.
In this case, the child who was present in the vehicle will suffer emotionally. If the accident was of a more serious nature, the child might also get injured or develop PTSD.
Children who weren't present in the vehicle also suffer in numerous ways. The most significant impact is the loss of their parent. Your children will spend several weeks, months, or perhaps years in your absence if you're incarcerated. Children often become resentful and grow up feeling bitter about the absence of a parent. If you were the sole or shared breadwinner for the family, your children would also suffer financially.
It's important to note that multiple DWI convictions can result in the loss of child custody. If you have more than one DWI, it can be argued that you pose a risk to your children. Your partner may receive full custody. The judge will ultimately look out for the children's best interests. You will be considered an unfit parent if you have made multiple decisions that have affected your children's safety.
3. Immediate Family Members
Immediate family members like parents, siblings, grandparents, and cousins are also affected by DWI arrests. Your loved ones look up to you. If you're arrested, they will develop a different perspective about you. Many family members hesitate to leave their children with DWI convicts in the future. There are many implicit ways that DWI convicts are made to feel irresponsible.
Your family will also struggle to grapple with the significant change. If your case resulted in serious injuries or death, you might be ostracized by your immediate family. While this is rare, it's possible. In most cases, families provide support, encouragement, guidance, motivation, and reassurance to loved ones who are arrested. However, it all comes down to the nature of the case. If your case is more severe, your family will be devastated and may take drastic action, like distancing themselves from you.
4. Extended Family
Your extended family will be affected the least since they weren't close to you, to begin with. However, at this level, the offender's social life is affected the most. Since your extended family will have less regard for you than your partner, children, parents, or siblings, they're more likely to spread misinformation and damage your reputation.
Local arrests are considered gossip across neighborhoods. As word spreads about your arrest, the circumstances around the incident may be exaggerated to paint you in a certain light. It's extremely important to request your family to stand by your side and protect you until your release when you can defend yourself. Until then, your loved ones require protection.
Request your family and friends to help maintain a clean reputation for you. This will positively affect your partner's work and social life and your children's schooling and social life. The more support they receive, the better.
We also recommend requesting close family members to ensure that your immediate family (spouse and children) are doing okay. If not, request for arrangements like therapy to be made. It may also be a good idea for your immediate family to switch neighborhoods and enjoy a fresh start (while still being close to you for convenient visits).
Recommended Read: Why Should I Hire a DWI Lawyer?
If you're looking for a DWI attorney in San Antonio, TX, George A. Scharmen should be your first call. DWI cases can take a toll on the accused and their family. As you work with an experienced, conscientious, dedicated, and detail-oriented DWI defense lawyer, you'll protect your future and freedom.
Scharmen builds a strong DWI case for his clients, achieving the most favorable outcome possible. With over 40 years of experience, he serves clients across San Antonio. Hire a DWI lawyer who can steer your case in the right direction, hire George A. Scharmen. Click here to get started.