Sadly, as you may be aware, Texas regularly leads the nation in DWI fatalities. Of course, you already know the dangers of driving while intoxicated and the increased risk it means for both you and any passengers, not to mention everyone else on the road, pedestrians included. You know how important it is to arrange alternate transportation ahead of time if you're going to be drinking. If nothing else, you can call an Uber.
What you may be less certain of, however, is how to spot when another driver on the road has been drinking. Perhaps even more important is knowing what to do about it. Figuring out the signs of impaired driving can help you take preventative measures, if necessary, to keep you and your passengers safe, and reporting a drunk driver to the appropriate authorities can potentially save the lives of any number of others.
How to report a drunk driver
Reporting someone driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances removes that danger from the roads, keeping not only you safe but possibly countless others as well. Before doing anything, though, you'll want to pull over, to avoid unintentionally causing your own accident in the process. Above all, do not try to follow the vehicle or detain the driver − that is what the police are for. Instead, after you've safely pulled over, you'll first want to call 911 and tell the operator you would like to report a drunk driver.
What will they ask for?
In addition to the exact location of the vehicle - such as the name of the street and the direction in which the suspected drunk driver is traveling - the 911 operator will also probably ask you for as complete a description of the vehicle as you can possibly give, including its color, make and model and a license plate number if you can. The operator will then likely ask you for a description of the driver's behavior, which could include any of the following warning signs:
- Making wide turns
- Driving on the wrong side or in the center of the road
- Driving on surfaces other than a designated roadway
- Almost running into objects or other vehicles
- Weaving, swerving, or drifting in and out of a straight line
- Turning abruptly or illegally
- Following others too closely
- Driving slower than 10 mph below the speed limit
- Driving with headlights off
- Stopping inappropriately in a traffic lane or braking erratically
- Inconsistent signaling that doesn't match up to driving actions
- Slow response to traffic signals, including sudden stops and delayed starts
While some of these signs - like making wide turns - might not mean much on their own, noticing several can be an indication that something is wrong. Even if it turns out the vehicle's operator isn't drunk, erratic driving can be life-threatening, regardless of the reasons behind it. Alerting the authorities could help save a life, whatever the cause of the driver impairment may be.
Unfortunately, even if you know the signs of drunk driving, you may not always be able to report the driver or get out of the way in time to prevent an accident. If you are unlucky enough to suffer serious injuries in a collision caused by an impaired driver, you may wish to explore your legal options for obtaining just compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering and other damages. Learn more by visiting our overview of drunk driving accidents and personal injuries in the Dallas area.