How to Identify a Drunk Driver

by | Mar 8, 2018 | Blog | 0 comments

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes cost more than an estimated $44 billion annually.
  • In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, that’s one person every 51 minutes.
  • 1,233 children 14 and under were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2016.

The NHTSA produced a report listing the top 100 visual cues to identifying a drunk driver following a study of police reports, interviews and reported alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes.  As a motorist, knowing how to identify a drunk driver is an important defensive driving skill to improving your road safety.

A 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or greater will result in a DUI or DWI in all states.  Behaviors and signs of impaired driving as reported to the NHTA by law enforcement can be broken down into four major categories:

  1. Judgment problems: Judgment problems include following too closely, unsafe lane changes, illegal turn, unusual behavior such as driving with one’s face to close to the windshield or gripping the steering wheel too tightly.
  2. Speed and braking difficulties:  Speed and braking difficulties include varying speed, slow speed, accelerating for no reason, and stopping problems.
  3. Maintaining proper lane position: Cues related to impaired driving and maintaining proper lane position include weaving, straddling a lane, drifting, swerving or turning with a wide radius.
  4. Vigilance problems: Vigilance problems include failure to turn on headlights at night, slow response to traffic signals, and driving in opposing lanes.

If you find yourself on the roadway with a driver you suspect to be impaired, attempt to slow or move around them in traffic.  Mentally record a physical description of the vehicle and if you are in a safe location, pull over and call 9-1-1 to report the driver.  The defensive driving skill of how to identify a drunk driver is a life-saving tool; however, if you are the victim in an accident involving a drunk driver and need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, contact Reginald Keith Davis, Attorney at Law.

Resources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  (2010). The Visual Detection of DWI Motorists,