What to Do When You Suspect a Drunk Driver on Summer Road Trips
In St. Louis, summer is a time for vacations and road trips. Unfortunately, these road trips can also increase the risk of encountering drunk drivers. In 2021, 68 deaths occurred during the summer months of June, July, and August due to impaired driving in the Show-Me State.
Knowing how to identify and respond to a drunk driving situation can protect you and your passengers if you see an intoxicated driver. It can also save the lives of other drivers and passengers on the road.
Staying vigilant and recognizing the signs that someone might be driving under the influence is essential. While not all erratic driving is a result of intoxication, the following behaviors are commonly associated with drunk drivers:
- Weaving or zigzagging across the road: A driver who can’t stay within the lane lines, drifts from side to side, or hits or almost hits objects or other vehicles may be intoxicated.
- Exaggerated body posture: Intoxicated drivers may have exaggerated or hyper-focused body posture, such as slouching, staring straight ahead, tightly gripping the steering wheel, or having their face too close to the windshield. These unnatural movements may indicate they are under the influence.
- Driving too slowly: An excessively slow speed may indicate a drunk driver. Impaired drivers often drive under the speed limit in an exaggerated effort to control their vehicle.
- Inconsistent signaling: A driver who signals inconsistently with their actions (such as signaling left but moving right) may be driving drunk.
- Delayed reaction to traffic signals: Drunk drivers may exhibit slower response times, often resulting in sudden stops or delayed starts at traffic lights.
- Driving at night without headlights: An intoxicated driver may forget to turn their headlights on, especially in the evening or in poor weather conditions.
If you suspect someone is driving drunk, your immediate priority is to ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers. To keep everyone safe, take the following actions:
- Maintain a safe distance: Keep a considerable distance between your vehicle and the suspected drunk driver. This provides a buffer zone and reduces the risk of a collision in case their impaired driving leads to sudden maneuvers or loss of control.
- Do not engage or confront: Avoid attempting to pass the vehicle or signaling the driver to pull over. Engaging with a drunk driver can lead to unpredictable responses and potentially escalate the situation.
- Do not follow: Refrain from following the drunk driver closely or attempting to track their movements. Instead, prioritize your own safety rather than trying to monitor their actions.
- Be a vigilant witness: If it is safe to do so, observe and note any relevant details about the vehicle and its behavior, such as swerving, erratic speed changes, or running red lights. This information can assist law enforcement in their investigation.
- Focus on defensive driving: Stay alert, maintain a safe speed, and adhere to traffic laws. Defensive driving techniques can help mitigate the risks posed by impaired drivers on the road.
Once you identify a drunk driver, you should report them to the local authorities. This can prevent potential accidents with other vehicles even if you are safe from harm.
- Pull over safely: Before making a call, find a safe place to pull over. Park your car and use your cell phone to contact the authorities.
- Call local authorities: Concerned Missouri drivers can call 1-800-525-5555 or *55 to report intoxicated or drugged drivers.
- Provide detailed information: When you speak with the police, provide as much detail as possible about the car and its location. This includes the make, model, color, license plate number, and direction of travel. Also, describe the driver’s behavior that made you suspect they are intoxicated.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a drunk driver in St. Louis, knowing you’re not alone is important. At Cofman Townsley, our car accident attorneys understand the local legal system and have extensive experience in personal injury claims related to drunk driving accidents.
We’re committed to ensuring you receive the compensation you’re entitled to for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Reach out to us and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.