If my stepson died in a car wreck because the driver was drunk but his father was a passenger and was also drunk, doesn’t his father bear some responsibility aas well?

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If my stepson died in a car wreck because the driver was drunk but his father was a passenger and was also drunk, doesn’t his father bear some responsibility aas well?

His uncle was drunk and lost control of the car. His dad was drunk and in the passenger seat. Nobody was wearing seatbelts and everyone was thrown from the car. The first person and EMT’S on the scene said the adults wreaked of alcohol. We were told the car was going over 110 mph. His dad told us they were drunk and driving that fast. However, now his dad and uncle are trying to change their story, saying it was a tire blowout, no drinking was involved and they were going the speed limit. I know the driver will receive some form of punishment but what about my stepson’s dad? Is he not held responsible also? What charges are they facing for this?

Asked on July 5, 2015 under Criminal Law, Tennessee

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is really hard to make someone a co-defendant on intoxication manslaughter case.  However, if the father had specific knowledge of the dangerous acts, he could potentially be charged with child endangerment.  Even though you would like charges to be filed, it's ultimately up to the state on whether or not to press forward on criminal actions.  To see if this is an option the state would entertain, make an appointment to see the prosecutor, tell them the information you do know, and inquire if they would take up the additional charge.

If they chose not to accept the additional criminal charge, you can still pursue a civil suit against dad and uncle.  The main disadvantage, however, is that your remedy will be limited to monetary damages.


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