How to Spot a Drunk Driver

Despite all the best efforts to discourage drinking and driving, intoxicated drivers still pose a great risk on the roads in the United States. According to the CDC, 28% of all traffic related deaths in 2016 involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Since drinking and driving is such a frequent occurrence, there is a chance you’ll encounter a drunk driver at some point in your life. Each driver should know how to tell if you’re near a drunk driver and what to do about it.

How to Spot a Drunk Driver

It is important to know the signs of a drunk driver versus the signs of a distracted/tired/just bad driver. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have compiled lists of clues indicating that a driver may be drunk, including the following:

  • Driving too slowly (10 or more mph below the posted speed limit)
  •  Wildly varying speed
  • Making abrupt or illegal turns
  • Weaving/crossing lane lines, straddling lane lines
  • Drifting in and out of traffic
  • Signaling that doesn’t match driving actions
  • Driving the wrong way
  • Slow response at traffic signals
  • Driving somewhere other than the road
  • Forgetting to turn on headlights
  • Tailgating
  • Nearly colliding with objects, the curb, or other vehicles

If you notice two or more of the above clues, it can be an indication that the driver is intoxicated. To keep yourself, your passengers, and others safe, follow the steps below.

What to Do

1. Wear your seatbelt. Always.

2. Stay Safe. Get as far away from the drunk driver as possible. If you can get off the road, even better. DO NOT attempt to pass the vehicle, follow the vehicle, or confront the driver.

3. Gather Information. If possible, make note of the car’s following details:

·      License plate number

·      Make & Model

·      Color

·      Driver’s physical description

Do not place yourself or others in harm’s way to obtain this information, but if you can remember any of the above details, it may help the police locate the drunk driver quicker.

4. Call the Police. Provide the police with as much information as possible. In addition to the details listed above, let the police know the following:

·      The street you are travelling on

·      The direction you are travelling in

·      The street the drunk driver is travelling on (if different from you)

·      The direction the drunk driver is travelling in (if different from you)

·      The intersection you are near

·      The behavioral clues observed that make you suspect a drunk driver

From here on out, let the police handle the potentially intoxicated driver. Your priority should always be your safety and the safety of the passengers in your vehicle.