Every day, 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 50 minutes. Even more shocking, the most recent year for which data is available shows that the deaths and damages from alcohol-related accidents amounted to 44 billion-dollars. So, it isn’t uncommon —especially in Louisiana where 368 vehicle fatalities involving alcohol were reported in 2018 alone — to witness intoxicated drivers getting behind the wheel when it’s the last thing they should be doing. Perhaps, you saw them stumbling out of the local watering hole and into their car, or maybe, they’re already on the road swerving dangerously.

While you might feel like it’s none of your business to play watchdog on the road, it’s almost always the right move to call law enforcement if you feel uncertain about a driver’s ability to share the road with others, including yourself. As long as a driver’s actions appear alarming or concerning, it’s enough to contact a local dispatcher and request that a police officer evaluate the situation. It’s irrelevant whether or not the driver ends up intoxicated. All that matters is that you have made the effort to get a potentially drunk driver off the road or even prevented an accident from happening.

Reporting a drunk driver is easy as calling law enforcement.

Timing, however, is crucial since cars travel faster than pedestrians or cyclists and are able to disappear from your sight quickly. Just ensure that you are safe while making the phone call —we suggest that you have the passenger in the car make the call, pull over to make it yourself, or use any bluetooth capabilities you might have available to you. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your safety by keeping your eyes on your smartphone and not the road.

Whoever makes the report will want to relay as many details as possible, including the car’s make, model, color, and license plate. You’ll also want to give a run-down of the automobile’s behavior on the road, as well as your current location and the direction in which the vehicle is traveling. Don’t forget— you have the option to make the report anonymously and can decline giving your name to dispatch when you’re making it.

After you’ve reported the incident to law enforcement, they will issue an officer to the area to locate the vehicle. At this point, there’s nothing else you can do except continue to keep yourself safe on the road, keeping distance from the driver and any other suspicious vehicles. You should always have your seatbelt fastened, and if worse comes to worst, prepare to drive defensively and protect yourself at all costs.

Whatever you do— don’t follow the vehicle.

This can turn into a dangerous situation, and it’s not your responsibility to play “cop.” Now that the incident has been reported, it’s in the hands of competent, highly trained police officers. If the driver in question is caught and apprehended, they will most likely receive a DUI. Even though a DUI comes with serious consequences, it’s preferable to someone losing their life in an accident. Better yet, it might teach the driver a thing or two about road safety.

If you or someone you love has been in an accident with a drunk driver before you were able to report it, Bush Law Firm is here for you. With offices located in Gonzales and New Orleans, we serve the residents (and drivers) of Southeast Louisiana with pride. As experienced personal injury attorneys, we can tell you if you’re eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress, or further damages.

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Dallon Bush

Owner, Bush Law Firm