Each year, a statistically significant number of motorists get behind the wheels of their vehicles while intoxicated from alcohol, putting both their lives and those of others on the line. Knowing what the tell-tale signs are that you’re sharing the road with an inebriated motorist and knowing how to avoid drunk drivers could save your life.
Below, our car accident attorney outlines how common drunk driving is in Illinois and goes over signs to look for that are indicative of a drunk driver. Also included are steps you can take to keep yourself (and others) from becoming entangled in a crash with them.
Signs That a Motorist Is Drunk
Factors that may indicate a motorist is intoxicated include:
- Driving at fluctuating speeds, including randomly stopping
- Failing to remain in one’s lane or on the roadway altogether
- Running stop lights or stop signs or otherwise violating other motorists’ or pedestrians’ right-of-way
- Having a close call, barely missing an inanimate object, car, person, or something else
- Driving too close to the center line or to other vehicles (tailgating)
What To Do if You Notice Signs of Drunk Driving
Some steps to take if you suspect you’re driving alongside an intoxicated motorist include:
- Avoiding the urge to continue driving alongside the drunk driver: You may feel compelled to continue following the driver you suspect of being drunk, thinking you can alert fellow motorists of their presence or provide witness testimony about what you saw leading up to the crash if one occurs. However, attempting to make contact with them about the dangers they’re posing or to keep tabs on them until the police intercept them puts you at risk of getting struck, so it’s not worth it.
- Pulling over to get away from them: Pulling over on the shoulder, into a parking lot, or somewhere else safe is ideal if you suspect the motorist you’re sharing the road with is drunk. If possible, take note of details like the driver’s license plate number and the location they’re headed as you depart the roadway.
- Calling 911: Report the suspected drunk driver to the appropriate authorities, providing as many details as possible, such as the license plate number, description of the driver (if you took note), and the concerning driving behaviors the suspected drunk motorist was exhibiting. Additionally, calling 911 to report any bartender’s overserving of visibly intoxicated customers is also important. There is an Illinois Liquor Control Act, our state’s dram shop law, whereby victims can sue bar owners for overserving their patrons.
Also, there’s a lot of value in making the proactive choice not to drive drunk yourself and calling a cab, using a rideshare, or using a designated driver to get you home safely if you have been drinking. Your mature and mindful actions may rub off on your social circle (and others they know), resulting in others stopping drinking when they feel buzzed or leaving their vehicle behind and requesting a drive home instead of making a poor choice to get behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated.
Ways To Avoid Encountering Drunk Drivers
There are steps you can take to minimize your chances of sharing the road with inebriated motorists, so you hopefully don’t need to strategize how to take evasive action to get around them. Those steps include:
- Not venturing out on the road once dark outside: The likelihood that someone is returning from a celebratory dinner, gala, concert, sports game, party, bar, or somewhere else where they consumed alcohol is higher in the evenings, late night, and early morning hours than any other time of the day. And, since alcohol intoxication affects motor skills or sound judgment, the chances of them not turning on their headlights so you can see them is poorer (in addition to erratic driving, as discussed above).
- Avoiding driving on weekends when possible: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the alcohol-impairment rate of motorists involved in fatal accidents is two times that of any other time on the weekends, which the federal agency defines as anywhere from 6 p.m. on Fridays through 5:59 a.m. on Mondays.
- Considering staying off the roadways on holidays: Past research has shown that drunk driving accidents are more common than others on certain holidays. The rank order of those includes Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day (July 4th).
For most of us, it’s virtually impossible to never head out on the road because we have obligations to do things that require us to drive, whether that’s going to work, visiting the doctor, taking the kids to school, or something else. You should take caution when venturing out into more rural areas in or around Marion, IL like Pittsburg, Crab Orchard, Energy, or Johnston City.
Where To Seek Help if a Drunk Motorist Struck and Hurt You
In an ideal world, our Prince Law Firm team wouldn’t have to highlight how to avoid drunk drivers. However, it’s an unfortunate hazard motorists have to contend with, just like other types of reckless operation of vehicles like drowsy or distracted driving and road rage.
Our law firm has decades of experience serving the legal needs of fellow Marion residents who have been hurt or lost a family member in senseless, preventable crashes like those caused by drunk drivers. Please reach out to our law office to speak with a Marion car accident attorney regarding your case. There’s no cost for us to have this meeting to discuss your legal rights and the best path forward in your case.