According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone is killed in an accident with a drunk driver every 50 minutes. And in 2016, the CDC reported that 10,497 people were killed by drunk drivers. Despite the extreme danger involved, many people continue to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, in 2016, more than 1 million people in the U.S. were arrested for driving under the influence. Reporting a drunk driver is vitally important and could potentially save someone’s life. So if you see someone who is driving erratically, contact the police ASAP.
Never feel guilty about calling the police to report someone who you suspect is driving drunk. When people drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, they place the people sharing the roads with them in grave danger. Drunk drivers kill many innocent people in the U.S. every year, and reporting a drunk driver to the police might save the driver’s life as well as the lives of innocent people.
How to Report a Drunk Driver
If you witness someone driving while drunk, call 911 to report it ASAP. Try to pay attention to the details of the driver and the vehicle so that you can give as much information as possible to the dispatcher. For example, make note of the make, model, color, and license plate of the vehicle. In addition, tell the dispatcher what the driver looks like if you are able to see him or her, and provide location information (nearby intersections, the direction of travel, landmarks you pass).
Continue to follow the driver while keeping a safe distance. As you do so, update the dispatcher until law enforcement arrives. Do not try to confront the driver or force the vehicle off the road.
If you are driving on the interstate or a highway when you spot someone who you believe is drunk, you can either call 911 or can call the Missouri Highway Patrol from your smartphone by dialing *55. For location information, tell the dispatcher the mile marker numbers or exit numbers as you pass them.
When the police arrive, tell them what you witnessed. If you happen to have a dash camera, notify the police of this as well. The police might want to look at the footage on your camera for evidence of how the person was driving.
What if the drunk driver is your family member or friend?
If one of your family members or friends intends to drive while under the influence, try to talk him or her into exiting the car before he or she starts the engine. If possible, take the car keys away. If the person refuses and drives off, call the police as you would for anyone else driving drunk.
Your family member or friend might be angry with you afterward, but your actions could save his or her life as well as the lives of others. In addition, reporting a drunk driver who is a family member or friend may provide the impetus for him or her to seek out treatment and prevent similar behavior in the future.
What if you’re involved in a collision with someone who appears drunk?
If you are involved in a collision with someone who you believe is drunk, tell the responding officer of your suspicions. Describe why you believe the person may be drunk or otherwise impaired: the smell of alcohol, bloodshot or bleary eyes, lack of balance, erratic driving, etc. This may prompt the police officer to test the driver for alcohol or drugs.