An estimated 4 million U.S. adults report driving under the influence of alcohol every year, the majority of them men. When a partner gets a DUI (Driving While Under the Influence) or a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), it can cause all sorts of issues in the relationship. You find yourself torn between feeling sorry for him, being upset with his recklessness, and being bitter about having to care for him after his DUI. Having a DUI or a DWI means that you will lose your driver's license, pay large fines, and possibly do some jail time. This can be a difficult obstacle, even in the most loving relationship.
Try to keep your calm when you learn that your partner got a DUI or a DWI. Your first reaction may be to yell or get upset, or you may find yourself crying because your partner has gotten in trouble with the law. Depending on how many DUIs or DWIs your partner has had, his sentence could be fairly easy. His first offense will require less time without a driver's license – around 90 days depending on state laws – and could mean no jail time if he gets into an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program and undergoes alcohol counseling. Find out the terms of your partner's sentence before you get upset.
Talk it Over
Talk about what has happened and how you will both deal with it. When your partner gets a DUI or DWI, you'll want to do your best to support him. There is nothing you can do after the fact, so being upset forever will not do any good. Try to find a solution to the issue. If there are outrageous fines to pay, which there usually are, have your partner talk to the court about a payment plan. Most courts offer a payment plan for DUI fines since many people cannot pay these fees upfront. Try your best to talk through the situation with your partner and come to a good solution for handling the financial aspects of the DUI.
Plan for Jail Time
If your partner has to do jail time, try to find a way to ease this trouble for both of you. Plan visits to the jail as often as possible to see your partner. If he is allowed work release, which many people with a job are, pick him up in the morning and take him back to jail at night. However, if you find that this becomes a hassle due to having children or your own employment, enlist the help of friends and family to pick your partner up and take him back from work release. A DUI requires a lot a assistance and if you are not up for the challenge, don't take it on all by yourself. You'll start to resent your partner and become angry at the situation.
Consider How You'll Handle a Driving Ban
When your partner gets a DUI or DWI, he will lose his driver's license, probably requiring you to drive him where he needs to go. This can get monotonous and may cause trouble in the relationship if not dealt with properly. If you are not able to drive your partner everywhere or become irritated with having to do so, ask for help. Your partner will not expect you to take care of everything for him. He will not want to feel like a burden. Keep an open communication with your partner and tell him if you're upset. But, remember too, that he won't lose his driver's license forever and if the roles were reversed, you'd need him to do the same thing for you.
Support Your Partner Through Counseling
Your partner will more than likely be required to do counseling classes for his DUI or DWI. Some of these classes request that family be present. Support your partner by taking him to these classes and sitting with him. If your partner got a DUI because he may have a slight drinking problem, your support will definitely be needed. These classes teach people who have gotten DUIs or DWIs how to be more responsible, how to get support from family or friends, and offer help if needed in the form of AA meetings. Around 30 to 40 percent of DUI convictions involve repeat offenders, so you should be there for your partner so that you can understand more about the alcohol addiction and how to be safe when drinking. Even if your partner hardly ever drinks, and just happened to this one time, you'll be helping him get through this tough time of getting a DUI just by being there.
This article was written by Legal Beagle staff. If you have any questions, please reach out to us on our contact us page.