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Recognize the Signs of Drunk Driving on the Road


The risk of injury is significant when another driver on the road is impaired. Drunk drivers who threaten families already have the police and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving with which to contend. Although it’s impossible to control negligent actions of other drivers, you as a vigilant driver, knowing the signs of drunk driving could avoid an accident for yourself or even save someone else’s life.

Signs That Could Indicate a Driver Is Drunk

Some signs are more obvious than other ones. For instance, weaving in and out of traffic, swerving and straggling the lane marker or center line are examples of some drunk driving signs. The driver may come close to striking an object. The driver may actually make contact with an object and continue to drive.

Other signs that a driver may be drunk include:

  • Going the wrong way (this is perhaps one of the most perilous types of impaired driving behavior, which has a high risk of collision)
  • Driving without headlights at night
  • Driver’s speed (driving excessively fast is a potential sign of a drunk driver, but driving well below the speed limit could also be a sign of drunk driving)
  • Taking wide turns
  • Drifting from lane to lane
  • Suddenly accelerating and decelerating
  • Erratic braking
  • Tailgating

Another of the more obvious signs of driver impairment is witnessing the driver nodding off behind the wheel. If you witness this or other behaviors, find a safe spot to pull over and call the police right away with a description and location of the vehicle.

What Not to Do When You Spot a Drunk Driver

While there are many things you can do when you see a drunk driver – such as calling law enforcement and getting out of the way – there are certain things that you shouldn’t do. For instance, don’t attempt to be a vigilante. Report the driver and then leave it to up to the police to handle the situation.

Don’t follow the vehicle if the driver is speeding or exhibiting other dangerous maneuvers. If you can do so safely, take note of the driver’s license plate number and pull over to write it down and contact the authorities. But don’t break the law or cause a crash to get the plate number.

Don’t follow the impaired driver too closely. When the circumstances allow for keeping the person in sight, maintain a safe distance. Never try to get in front of the vehicle. It is important to stay behind a vehicle that you suspect of drunk driving.

This is because while you are positioned behind the vehicle you can correct your driving to compensate for any changes in direction and speed that the drunk driver performs. It is much more difficult to maneuver out of the way of someone while looking in your rearview mirror.

Additionally, drunk drivers have a tendency to drive toward what they are looking at and if you are the only car, or object with lights near them – say, on a darkened back road – then they will have a natural tendency to drive toward you. A simple two-car collision on an otherwise empty road is not unheard of when it comes to drunk driving accidents.

If the driver ends up causing a crash and comes out of the vehicle, don’t attempt to detain or stop the individual. Contact the police right away and help anybody who is injured and needs assistance.

Get more information about the drunk driving problem and its consequences by  reading our article, “Drunk Driving Accidents: Statistics, Common Injuries & Legal Options.” Hensley Legal Group helps accident victims in Indiana pursue compensation from negligent drivers who cause accidents.