There are around 300,000 drunk drivers on America’s roadways at any given time. In addition, the average drunk driver gets behind the wheel while intoxicated more than 80 times before their first DUI arrest. That means that while DUI checkpoints and enforcement are necessary to keep our roads safe, they can’t possibly catch every impaired driver who poses a risk to themselves, their passengers, and others.
If you’ve ever encountered a vehicle that you suspect was being driven by an intoxicated driver, you aren’t alone—and you probably weren’t wrong in your assessment, either. You may breathe a sigh of relief when the driver turns or you pass them, but that means that they’re still on the road and putting others in danger.
The next time you see a drunk driver, here’s what to do.
First, Know How to Recognize Signs of Drunk Driving
Bad or dangerous driving doesn’t always mean drunk driving. Instead of a drunk driver, you may be watching an inexperienced driver, an elderly driver, or a distracted driver.
It’s important to know the telltale signs of drunk driving before reporting the vehicle to your local police department, county sheriff’s department, or Oklahoma Highway Patrol office.
Common signs of drunk driving include:
- Erratic acceleration and deceleration—Drunk drivers may suddenly speed up or slow down for seemingly no reason.
- Inaccurate stopping—Drunk drivers may stop well before or after a stop sign or red light.
- Weaving—Drunk drivers often have difficulty maintaining their lanes and may drift towards other vehicles, medians, or ditches.
- Near-misses or actual collisions—Drunk drivers may sideswipe other vehicles or objects such as curbs, light posts, mailboxes, trees, and more.
- Wrong-way driving—Driving on the wrong side of the road or the wrong way on one-way streets is extremely dangerous and also very common among highly intoxicated drivers.
Next, Know Who to Call to Report the Driver
Who you should call to report the potentially intoxicated driver depends on where you’re driving.
- Rural road—If you’re driving in a rural area, your best bet is to report the intoxicated driver to the county sheriff’s office.
- City street—If you’re driving in a suburban or urban area, you should report the driver to the city police department.
- Highway or interstate—If you’re driving on a multi-lane expressway, highway, or interstate, report the intoxicated driver to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Be sure to use your phone safely to report the driver. If available, use your phone’s or vehicle’s hands-free function to make the call, or have a passenger do it. If neither are available, pull over to a safe location to report the drunk driver.
When reporting the driver, tell the dispatcher or operator the vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate number, in addition to its current location and the direction its traveling.
Finally, Keep Your Distance from the Driver
Law enforcement may or may not be able to respond to the call you make depending on where the drunk driver is located and whether officers are nearby. In the meantime, you have a few options to protect yourself:
- Turn if possible—If you can take an alternate route, do so. Getting away from the intoxicated driver can protect you and your passengers.
- Put distance between your vehicle and their vehicle—If you can’t take an alternate route, put space between your vehicle and theirs. Allow them to pass you, or if they’re traveling at a low speed, pass them—but do so safely and where legally permitted.
- Never engage a drunk driver—Don’t try to get the driver’s attention or stop them, as doing so may be highly distracting to you and the intoxicated driver. Instead, wait for law enforcement to arrive.
We’re Here for Drunk Driving Accident Victims throughout Oklahoma
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we have no sympathy for drunk drivers. When they cause accidents that harm innocent people, we hold them accountable for the damages they inflict. It’s the least we can do to help injured victims move forward with their lives after accidents that should never have happened.
If you or someone you love is injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, we want to help. Contact our Oklahoma car accident lawyers today for a free consultation.