How to Spot a Drunk Driver and Respond Appropriately

If you are driving along the road and you suspect that a fellow motorist may be intoxicated, take a moment to consider some important tips in confirming your assumption. Learning to spot a drunk driver and respond accordingly is an important lesson, especially if you can avoid an accident and save a life.


  1. Image titled Spot a Drunk Driver and Respond Appropriately Step 1
    Familiarize yourself with the specific signs that a driver may be drunk at the wheel.
    • Be heedful of vehicles that seem to be zigzagging or weaving back and forth across lanes. They may also drift in a straight line but at an angle to the road.
    • Look out for motorists who straddle the center of two lanes, drive on the wrong side of the road, or off the road altogether.
    • Be vigilant of vehicles without their headlights on at night.
    • Watch out for cars that are speeding or moving much too slow for the specified speed limit.
    • Beware of drivers who are drunk and are driving much too close to the car in front of them.
    • Be wary of drivers who use their signals in a manner inconsistent with the actions of their car. For example, if a driver constantly turns on his indicator signals, but doesn't make the turn.
    • Watch out for erratic braking or stopping for no reason in a traffic lane.
    • Be cautious of swerving cars or vehicles that turn away abruptly, make wide turns, or divert from a straight course.
    • Pay attention to drivers who are slow to respond to traffic lights. For example, they stop suddenly or are slow to start when the lights turn green.
    • Take note of cars that are heading into opposing or cross traffic, especially if they almost strike another car or object.
    • Be suspicious of drivers who show physical signs of intoxication, such as leaning forward in their seat so their face is close to the windshield, their eyes seems to be fixated, or they are obviously drinking alcohol while driving.
  2. Image titled Spot a Drunk Driver and Respond Appropriately Step 2
    Know what to do if you are confident that you have spotted an intoxicated driver who is driving dangerously.
    • Maintain a safe distance between you and the apparent drunk driver.
    • Make a note of the car's license plate and the description of the car, noting the color, make, and model, if possible. If there are any other distinguishing details, jot that down also.
    • Contact the police and tell them that you would like to report alleged drunk driving. Describe what you witnessed, along with the information you have collected. Let them know where you are, with road names if possible, and the direction in which the car is going.
  3. Image titled Spot a Drunk Driver and Respond Appropriately Step 3
    Don't take it upon yourself to stop a potential drunk driver. Your responsibility is to contact the authorities. It will be up to them to take care of the situation.


  • Never speed, disregard traffic lights, or break any laws trying to follow the driver or keep the intoxicated driver in sight.
  • Watch your own driving and make sure to avoid become reckless yourself simply because you are trying to keep up with the drunk driver, taking notes, or calling the authorities on your cell phone.

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Categories: Fines and Road Offenses