Getting woken up in the middle of the night by a call from your sobbing child who tells you they just crashed their car is a terrifying experience. Your initial relief about the fact that they are relatively unharmed may fade as you realize that they are clearly under the influence of alcohol.
Not only is your new college student too young to legally drink, but they got behind the wheel of a car and crashed after illegally drinking. You will worry about what may happen to your child now that they may have financial liability for the crash and could face criminal charges.
How should you respond to your young adult’s recent drunk driving collision?
Recognize that your child needs support
Obviously, you are likely angry and disappointed that your child would make such a dangerous decision after leaving home for college. However, they’re far from the only young adult to make that kind of mistake.
According to an analysis of drunk driving collisions, college students are responsible for about 19% of drunk driving collisions. Unfortunately, the frequency with which college students drive while drunk might mean that prosecutors and judges are more likely to seriously discipline your child as a way to deter them from making the same mistake in the future and to set an example for other students.
If you don’t help them, they may face an uphill battle if they want to finish their education or pursue a professional career.
What a conviction might mean
A judge is unlikely to be lenient with your child just because they are underage. They will likely face jail time and fines, as well as the loss of their license. It may become prohibitively expensive for you to pay for car insurance, meaning that your college student will not be able to drive even after they regain their license.
Additionally, the school might expel them for a criminal conviction, and they could be at risk of losing their financial aid as well. Helping your child mount a defense against those pending charges could teach them a very valuable lesson. Spending a night in jail and realizing the numerous consequences of a conviction could keep your college student from repeating the same mistake in the future.
If they successfully defend against the charges in criminal court, you likely won’t need to worry about them losing their student aid or enrollment at their college. You can impress the seriousness of this offense on your child while also supporting them to fight back against the consequences. Talking to a criminal defense attorney can be an important early step for parents worried about their child’s pending drunk driving charges.