Protect Yourself from Drunk Drivers: What You can Do

There are many ways to protect yourself from drunk drivers. Defensive driving can help save your life if faced with a drunk driver. Avoid injury or death from such drivers by being on the lookout for anyone who appears impaired.

Common signs of drunk driving include any of these.
  • Turning too wide.
  • Driving in the center of the road.
  • Looking drunk (face close to windshield, drinking in the vehicle, etc.).
  • Almost hitting an object or other vehicle.
  • Weaving or zigzagging across the road.
  • Driving on other than a designated roadway.
  • Swerving or abruptly turning.
  • Turning suddenly or illegally.
  • Driving much too slowly.
  • Stopping inappropriately.
  • Drifting or moving in a straight-line at a slight angle to the roadway.
  • Erratic braking.
  • Driving on wrong side of the road.
  • Signaling that is inconsistent with driving actions.
  • Slowly reacting to traffic signals.
Protect yourself from drunk drivers by driving very defensively.

If you suspect that a driver is impaired:

  • protect yourself from drunk driversBe ready to take quick, evasive action.
  • Keep your distance from the suspect vehicle or pull over and let the driver pass you.
  • If the car is headed directly toward you on a collision course, pull to the right, stop, honk your horn and flash your lights.
As quickly as possible, notify low enforcement authorities by dialing 911 or *SP on cell phone.
  • Say that you want to report a suspected drunk driver.
  • Give the exact location (identify road and direction) of the vehicle.
  • Provide a complete description of the vehicle, such as make, model, color, license number, etc.
Do Not:
  • protect yourself from drunk driversAttempt to stop the vehicle.
  • Disregard any traffic signals in an attempt to keep the driver in view.
  • Attempt to follow if the vehicle is speeding. or if any other hazard exists following the vehi
  • Follow the impaired driver too closely because the car may stop suddenly.
  • Get so focused on following the drunk driver that you begin weaving in the road with the drunk driver.
  • Attempt to detain the drunk driver if they stop.
  • Act in the capacity of any police, fire or medical person unless you are properly trained and authorized to perform that function.
  • Attempt to assist any law enforcement officer while they are apprehending a drunk driver unless requested.
Protect yourself and others
  • Don’t drink and drive and don’t ride with anyone who has had too much to drink.
  • Serve as a designated driver.
  • Always use a safety seat belt.
  • Use four-lane highways whenever possible.
  • Avoid rural roads.
  • Avoid travel after midnight (especially on Fridays and Saturdays).
  • Refer to safety ratings before buying your next vehicle. See vehicle ¬†Safety Ratings.
  • Never use illegal drugs. Using illicit drugs causes a large proportion of traffic fatalities.
  • Never drive when fatigued. Drivers who drift off cause about 72,500 injuries and deaths annually.
  • Don’t use a car phone, put on make-up, comb your hair, or eat while driving.

Protect yourself from drunk drivers by following those tips.

Resources on Safe Driving

Healy, J. Safe Driving. Thirroul, NSW: Spinney Press, 2009.

Illinois Secretary of State. A Quick Guide to Safe Driving. Springfield: Secretary of State, 2014.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Safe Driving for Older Adults. Washington: The Administration, 2003.