As a parent, your biggest nightmare is having something happen to your children. A DUI arrest will not only shake your world, it can inflict long-term harm on your child. Although you may be torn about how much help to offer your child in this situation, you need to arrange legal help and then consider other options.
Even if you've told your child that you would not help them if they were ever in this situation, you need to reconsider. Of course, some punishment is in order, but if your 21-year-old is arrested for DUI the situation will only be complicated by a delay in acquiring legal help. If your child calls you, instruct them to stay quiet until their lawyer arrives. Although they probably know not to talk from years of watching legal shows, it's easy to forget when they are actually at the police station. If you do not retain a lawyer, your child can end up paying thousands of dollars in fines, losing their license, paying drastically higher insurance rates, and maybe doing jail time. Many of these punishments will directly affect you and your wallet. Although you want them to learn a lesson, you don't want their life to be permanently impacted.
Not everyone who gets a DUI has a drinking problem, but if your child is arrested for drunk driving, you need to investigate their drinking habits and determine if a problem exists. If nothing else, they need to be aware of how dangerous and disruptive their decision was for your entire family. Having them talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist is a good step and can help you determine if rehab is necessary. The court may require that your child attends AA meetings However, these meetings may not be enough, initially. If your child needs a rehab stay, their lawyer may make it part of a plea deal as well.
If your child is arrested for DUI, you may be tempted to teach them a lesson by letting them stay in jail overnight and make do with a court-appointed lawyer. No matter how angry you are, you need to protect your child's future by hiring an experienced DUI lawyer (such as one from Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham, LLC.). After the immediate legal issues are taken care of, you need to dig deeper and get your child the additional help they need. Failure to help can have lifelong negative effects on your child.