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How to spot a drunk driver

When you take to the road, you understand the importance of doing so with a clear mind. Consuming alcohol before you drive can impair your judgment, thus increasing the risk of causing an accident.

Even if you understand the importance of avoiding alcohol before driving, it doesn't mean that every other driver takes the same approach. Despite the fact that it's against the law, there will always be people who drink and drive.

The ability to spot a drunk driver can help keep you safe, as you can remove yourself from harm's way. Here are some signs that a person may be drunk:

  • Failure to use headlights when driving at night
  • A wide turning radius
  • Making illegal turns
  • Driving the wrong way on a one way street
  • Rapid acceleration, such as when pulling away from a traffic light or stop sign
  • Driving with their face over the steering wheel, almost touching the windshield
  • Striking (or nearly hitting) objects, such as other vehicles or road signs
  • Erratic braking
  • Tailgating
  • Driving in the middle of the road, instead of choosing a lane
  • Slow response to a traffic signal change

Steps to take

It's one thing to spot a drunk driver, but another thing entirely to take action.

Since a drunk driver is a risk to themselves, as well as everyone else on the road, you shouldn't hesitate to take these steps:

  • Make note of the make and model of the vehicle
  • Make note of the license plate number
  • Call 911 to explain what you're seeing and to share your location
  • Keep your distance, as getting too close increases the risk of an accident
  • Don't attempt to take matters into your own hands, such as by driving slowly in front of the person

As cautious as you may be, you could still find yourself part of a drunk driving accident. If this happens, move to safety, call 911 and let police take control of the situation. The responding officer can conduct the proper tests to determine if the person who caused the accident is under the influence.

Once you receive treatment, review your car insurance policy, file a claim and take all the appropriate steps in protecting your legal rights and holding the drunk driver responsible for their negligence.

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