What to Do When You Suspect Another Driver Is Under the Influence

Despite efforts to publicize the dangers of drunk driving, far too many people get behind the wheel after a few drinks, especially during holidays. According to the National Safety Council, while drunk driving accounted for 28% of fatal crashes in 2019, the rate spiked to 38% on Christmas Day.

While many people are encouraged to report drunk drivers, few understand how to do so safely. Safely reporting a drunk driver can save lives.

Learn what to do if you suspect someone is driving under the influence and how an attorney at Cofman Townsley can help if you’re injured in a drunk driving accident.

When Is Drunk Driving Most Common?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is most common from June to August, but many drunk driving accidents also occur from September through December. In 2020, the majority of drunk driving crashes occurred during nighttime hours.

Statistically, many more deaths from drunk driving occur on federal holidays, though some are more dangerous than others. For example, on Independence Day 2019, 41% of fatal crashes involved drunk drivers. Comparatively, the rate of drunk driving on New Year’s was 36%. (The national average for the year was 28%.)

Signs of Drunk Driving

While many expect a drunk driver to speed or drive recklessly, some drivers may be overly cautious to avoid a crash or get pulled over. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when someone is driving under the influence, you may notice them:

  • Swerving, weaving, or drifting between lanes
  • Driving too quickly, too slowly, or changing speed at random
  • Making wide turns
  • Stopping suddenly rather than gradually slowing down
  • Disobeying traffic signals or signs (e.g., running a red light or stopping at a green light)
  • Making illegal maneuvers
  • Driving in the wrong lane
  • Nearly colliding with objects or other vehicles (i.e., having “near misses”)

If you can see the driver, they may look visibly drunk. For example, they may appear unfocused, move slowly or clumsily, or not seem to be giving their full attention to the road.

What To Do If You Suspect Drunk Driving

It’s crucial to report a suspected drunk driver, as intoxicated drivers pose a significant risk to themselves and others on the road. To notify the authorities safely, you’ll need to find and report relevant information to the police, all while keeping yourself safe.

Keep Your Distance

Once you realize that the driver may be drunk, give them a safe distance to prevent them from hitting you. If you’re a short distance ahead of the driver, let them pass you if it’s safe.

Do not follow the driver closely or drive in front of them to try and slow them down. An intoxicated driver is likelier to hit you, and some studies have suggested that drunk drivers may be more likely to instigate road rage.

Gather Identifying Information

The police will need to be able to recognize the suspected drunk driver’s car to stop them. While maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle, try to gather information like:

  • The car’s license plate number
  • The model, make, and color of the car
  • Unique markings or identifiers (e.g., bumper stickers or notable damage to the vehicle)

Call the Police

When you have enough identifying information about the car, pull over so you don’t get into a crash yourself. Dial 911, tell the operator you are reporting a suspected drunk driver, and relay the information about the car. Tell them if you’ve seen dangerous maneuvers from the driver, like speeding or failing to yield.

In addition, tell the operator what road you and the drunk driver are on and in which direction the drunk driver seems to be going. This can help the police locate their vehicle and pull them over.

The operator may ask for more information or give you instructions. Follow their instructions and only hang up when they tell you to do so.

Contact Cofman Townsley After a Drunk Driving Accident

A drunk driver’s reckless maneuvers can seriously injure even the most careful drivers. If you’re a victim of a drunk driving accident in Missouri, Cofman Townsley can help you recover compensation for your injuries.

Cofman Townsley is a team of skilled lawyers familiar with drunk driving claims in Missouri. We handle the legal technicalities of your case and strive to help you earn the highest settlement possible, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.