You’re driving down the road and you notice what appears to be a drunk driver. You slow down and watch the suspected vehicle a little more closely, looking for common signs like weaving in and out of traffic, weaving from side-to-side within one lane, erratic braking, and slow response to traffic signals. You still suspect a drunk driver. Now, what do you do?
The first thing to remember when seeing a suspected drunk driver is to call 911. Always. The police can handle these situations better than anyone else. Not only would you put yourself in danger by trying to follow the driver and force the vehicle off the road in some way, but a drunk driver who becomes suspicious of you may become more of a dangerous driver. Police officers are trained to handle the various possible outcomes and they have the authority to enforce the laws. It may also be easier to make an arrest if the officer catches the driver in the act.
In fact, it may be best to take evasive action when you see a suspected drunk driver. After calling 911, you may want to pull over to the side of the road or at least do your best to stay as far away from the other vehicle as possible. If the suspected drunk driver is headed toward you and you think there may be a collision, pull your vehicle over to the right side of the road, honk your horn, and flash your lights. Also, stay on the phone call with dispatch. This often makes it easier for the police to locate the vehicle in question.
Observe the vehicle of the suspected drunk driver to the best of your abilities as soon as you become suspicious. If possible, make note of the make, model, and color of the car, the license plate information, and any other identifiers that will help police locate the vehicle. Be prepared to tell dispatch what road the suspected drunk driver is traveling on and which direction the vehicle is headed. Do not put yourself in danger or break any traffic laws in order to gather this information, though. Your safety is more important. If you have passengers in the car with you, let one of them make the 911 call, if possible.
Hopefully, you will never encounter a suspected drunk or impaired driver, but it is always best to be prepared. The most important thing to remember is to dial 911 and let the police handle the situation. Try to give the dispatcher who answers the call as much helpful information as possible to locate the vehicle, but not at your own expense. You may think it is helpful to follow the driver or somehow keep watch over the situation, but that may actually endanger you and other drivers. When dangerous driving is happening around us, following safety precautions becomes more important, not less.