It's a call nobody wants to get: the call from a friend, alerting you that they have been arrested and charged with a DUI. Everyone makes mistakes, and if your friend is in this situation, you would be a good friend to help them. But what should you do? What help does your friend need at this time in their life? Here are five key things you can to do help them navigate this difficult time.
1. Help Them Find a Lawyer
Your friend is probably rattled, and they have a lot to deal with—from figuring out where their car is impounded to coming to terms with their charge. Finding a good DUI lawyer can take a little time and research. Your friend may not have the time to do a thorough search, so you can do this for them. Look for an attorney whose sole practice focuses on DUI cases. A general attorney may not know the specific ins and outs to get your friend's charges dropped or reduced. Ask other friends for recommendations and read online reviews. Find a list of two or three good lawyers, and have your friend contact them. They will appreciate not having to do the legwork.
2. Give Them a Ride
This might just mean picking them up from the courthouse, or it may mean driving them around town for a few weeks while their case is being processed. In some states, anyone who is charged with a DUI will have their license revoked until their case is heard. Your friend's attorney may be able to get their license back provisionally, but until this happens—and it can take a few days—your friend will need some transportation.
3. Ask Them About Their Drinking
Some people make a one-time mistake and end up drinking and driving. For other people, being charged with a DUI can be a sign of a more serious drinking problem. If your friend falls into the latter group, they may need counseling or some therapy to help them deal with their drinking problem and get back on the right track. Do not force your friend into counseling, but do talk to them about their drinking in the days following their DUI. If you have a feeling that their drinking is becoming a bigger problem, you may want to encourage them to seek therapy or to join a support group.
4. Listen to Their Thoughts
Your friend is bound to feel guilty and scared at this time. More than anything, they will need someone to listen to their thoughts and fears. Be a supportive friend, and listen as they vent to you. You should also be willing to accompany them to meetings with their lawyer or court dates if they would like you there for support. Ask before you do this—some people would rather do these things alone.
5. Lend Them Money, if Appropriate
A DUI can be expensive. There are fees to pay, both to the lawyer and to the court. If your friend is generally responsible but a little short on cash at this time, feel free to lend them money. Do make sure that you both sign a sheet attesting to the timeline over which your friend will pay you back. You may also gift them the money if you see fit. If your friend has a history of being a bad money manager, on the other hand, you may want to avoid lending them money.
When your friend turns to you for help dealing with a DUI, there is a lot you can do to help. Think of the help you would need if you were in their shoes. Contact a law firm that offers DUI attorney services to learn more.