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How to Report a Drunk Driver?

Consider some of the following situations: 

  • You are driving on the highway and you see the car in front of you crossing the yellow line and the fog line.
  • You are at a party and an obviously intoxicated guest heads for the door with their car keys
  • You are a bartender and an intoxicated customer gets into his car in the parking lot. 

What do you do?

The Problem with Drunk Diving:

Drunk drivers kill people. They severely injure people, cause property damage, tie up law enforcement time, and put themselves and their passengers in danger. They do not belong on the road. Habitual drunk drivers may drive 100 times before getting caught. Other drivers on the road have a duty to bring suspected drunk drivers to the attention of law enforcement. 

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is defined as driving a motor vehicle with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .08 or higher. This roughly equals four alcoholic beverages consumed in the past hour. There are a number of factors to consider.

What is an average alcoholic beverage? This has been defined as 12 oz. of beer, or 6 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of spirits. This is a very inaccurate definition. Microbrews and imports are anywhere from 4.5 to 15% ethyl alcohol. Wine can range anywhere up to 18% alcohol and not everyone drinks from a 6 oz. glass. Spirits, such as whiskey, Scotch whisky, rum, or gin are about 30 to 40% ethyl Alcohol but there are over proof rums such as Bacardi 151 that come in at 75.5 % alcohol, and other distilled beverages which are 45% or 50% ethyl alcohol. Are the drinks being measured out to 1.5 oz. of spirits, or being poured freehand? Other considerations are gender (women’s BAC goes higher than a man and stays up longer, even if weight and tolerance are the same). 

All of these factors will determine how intoxicated you are. One’s BAC does not correlate with one’s level of intoxication. That will be determined by: 

  • How fast the drink is consumed
  • Is the beverage flat or carbonated (carbonated beverages get absorbed faster)
  • Hot or cold (hot beverages get absorbed faster)
  • Full or empty stomach
  • Are you well hydrated or dehydrated (You will get drunk faster if dehydrated)
  • Tired or sick or in a bad mood. This will effect how you react to alcohol. 
  • If have other drugs been used, including prescribed medications.
  • One’s tolerance for ethyl alcohol.
  • Body weight. The less you weigh, the faster you get drunk.

Driving can already be an arduous task. Consider the challenges involved and what you have to attend to. The weather, night, sun in your eyes, road conditions, Deer darting out in front of you, and texting and talking on a cell (both of which are a bad idea while driving). Add eating and drinking, fiddling with radio and distractions from kids or pets in the car, and fatigue. Now add alcohol. 

Alcohol impairs one’s ability to drive in several ways

  1. It delays recovery time from bright lights
  2. It slows reaction time
  3. It enhances emotions
  4. It alters perception
  5. It reduces overall alertness
  6. It impairs judgment of speed and distance
  7. It impairs decision making ability, particularly quick decisions

This combination of factors will make driving very unsafe. There is no safe amount of alcohol to use and then operate a vehicle. Your vehicle is also a weapon. It is a several thousand pound battering ram. Terrible things can happen if you lose control of it. It is not worth it.

 

What Signs to Look for in Drunk Drivers?

A drunk driver will typically cross the yellow line or fog line (the white line on the right) and then overcorrect, pulling to the left or the right too far. They will slow down, then speed up, not use directional signals, leave directionals on too long, and fail to dim high beams. They will overturn corners, crossing the line. An inattentive driver, a distracted driver, or new driver may do these things as well.

 

How to Report a Drunk Driver?

Presuming you have a phone, call 911. A drunk driver on the road is an emergency. Give the 911 dispatcher:

  • The road you are on
  • The direction of travel
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • The tag /license plate number
  • For clarity, use the phonetic alphabet to spell out the tag number
  • What the driver is doing that makes you suspicious

If you are a bartender or service staff you can be held both criminally and civilly responsible for serving a customer who is already intoxicated. This means you both can be arrested and sued. Your establishment can lose its liquor license. If you are serving guests at a party, and someone drives out and gets in an accident, you can be held accountable, by being subject to a civil suit. If you are an adult providing alcohol to minors, or those under the drinking age, you can be held criminally responsible. Preventing someone from driving drunk, if you can, is the best option. Offering to call a cab, or give someone a ride as long as you are sober, or letting them sleep on your couch or floor, is preferable to stop a drunk driver you know, as a friend or customer. 

A final thought: Don’t be the drunk driver someone else is reporting. The best plan is to not touch the car keys if you have consumed alcohol. Alternatives:

  1. Stay put
  2. Take a cab
  3. Be the DD (Designated Driver)