If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, you’re not the only one impacted. Your entire family can suffer in multiple ways.
It’s not unusual for spouses and children to feel shame. They may be embarrassed about telling their friends why you’re suddenly not driving or why you may have disappeared for awhile. They may be angry at you. If they fear that you have a drinking problem that they’ve been trying to ignore, they may even feel a sense of guilt they didn’t somehow prevent this.
Young people who get DUIs while still living at home with their family not only see their relationship with their parents change, but also those with their siblings. Again, embarrassment is common. On a more practical note, you may no longer be able to drive them to or from school. Parents who may feel that they were too lenient with the child who got the DUI may watch their other kids more closely and perhaps give them less freedom.
Marriages are often strained, sometimes to the breaking point, by a DUI. Serious drinking problems become harder to ignore. In some cases, both spouses drink excessively, but just one gets “caught” in a DUI. If a person enters a substance abuse program, that person may succeed in recovery while the other continues to drink — causing a serious rift in the relationship.
A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that a DUI increases the chances of divorce. This is due not just to the now-exposed substance abuse issues, but also the substantial financial impact of the DUI. There are fines, legal fees and sometimes lost wages. A couple who was barely making ends meet may find themselves in financial peril. If others were injured in a DUI crash, the family could face civil action that could wipe them out financially.
A DUI doesn’t have to destroy your marriage or family. First, with legal guidance, you may be able to avoid a conviction or at least minimize the consequences. Second, if a drinking problem led to the DUI, this can be the wake-up call you need to seek help. It’s understandable that you feel sorry for yourself, but if you can recognize and acknowledge how your DUI has impacted those you love, you can work to minimize that impact and heal any rifts that your actions have caused or worsened.