What should you do if you think a driver is under the influence?

If you were injured in a car crash caused by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you're likely angry that this person was behind the wheel when they shouldn't have been. You may feel like you were helpless to prevent the crash -- and perhaps you were. Drunk or drugged drivers can come out of nowhere and cause devastating harm and damage in seconds.

However, we can all learn to spot the signs of someone who's driving under the influence, get as far away from them as possible and notify the authorities so that they can make an effort to stop them before they hurt someone.

Let's look at some of the things that cause police to pull someone over for suspected impaired driving:

  • Drifting into another lane or even within their lane
  • Stopping or accelerating quickly or erratically
  • Signaling when there's no reason to
  • Driving too slowly for the speed limit or conditions
  • Almost hitting something
  • Not reacting to traffic signals or signs

Someone who's doing one or more of these things can be a threat to safety whether they're under the influence, distracted, drowsy or having a medical issue. You should make sure that you're not in their path or close enough for them to hit you if they make an unexpected move.

However, you should not try to get the driver to stop or confront the driver if they stop on their own. You don't know what this person's state of mind is. Don't follow closely behind them to get their license number or keep tabs on them.

You should call 911 as soon as you can safely do so (or have one of your passengers call). Give them as much information as you can about the vehicle, include the make, color, model and as much of the license plate number as you can remember. Give the 911 operator the last location where you saw the vehicle and the direction it was traveling.

If a driver caused a crash because they were under the influence, they'll likely face serious criminal penalties. However, they can also be held liable in civil court. You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages in civil court.

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