Citizen Reporting of Impaired Driving Appears to be Successful

Incentivized public reporting of impaired driving to law enforcement agencies appears to be an effective way to reduce drunken driving, according to a recently published study.

The research evaluated a confidential reward program targeting drunken driving in Stockton, California. The time-series cross-sectional study covered 19 years for Stockton and six other cities in California.

The researchers report that the program may have averted 275 alcohol-related crashes with a social cost saving of between $21,000 and $5,600,000. In addition, a possible 4,495 arrests were precluded, saving an estimated $1-3 million in arrest-related cost.

Signs of possible impairment include any of these:

  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Straddling center of lane marker
  • Appearing to be drunk (based on posture, gestures, etc.)
  • Almost striking an object or vehicle
  • Weaving
  • Driving on other than designated highway
  • Swerving
  • Speed more than 10 mph below limit
  • Stopping without cause in traffic lane
  • Following too closely
  • Drifting
  • Driving with tires on center or lane marker
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  • Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  • Driving with Headlights off at night

If you see an apparently impaired driver you can call 911 on your cell phone. Under no circumstances should you attempt to stop or otherwise interfere with the driver.


  • Van Vleck, V. N. and Brinkley, G. L. Alert eyes and DWIs: An indirect evaluation of a DWI witness reward; program in Stockton, CA. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 2009, 41(3), 581-587.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving