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What Can You Legally Do If You See a Drunk Driver?

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Car Accidents on December 23, 2019

Drunk driving is a rampant problem in Florida that takes many lives annually. DUI statistics in 2018 state 814 Floridians died in drunk driving accidents. As a safe and prudent driver, it may be your responsibility to report a potential drunk driver if you encounter one on the road or highway. Taking the correct steps to safely get a drunk driver off the road could save a life. It is important, however, to act according to what is safe and legal for you to do in these situations.

Memorize the Vehicle Description and Plate Numbers

While you are still close enough to the drunk driver to do so, quickly memorize or have a passenger in the vehicle write down a description of the driver’s vehicle and his or her license plate numbers. This is the information you will need to give the police for them to start their search for the drunk driver. Only stick around to get this information if you can do so from a safe distance.

Keep Your Distance

Put your personal safety first. Once you have memorized the information about the vehicle, slow down to put a safe distance between you and the drunk driver. Keep your eye on the driver in case he or she hits the brakes or swerves into your lane, but keep enough distance to be safely away from the reckless driver. Take an alternate route as soon as possible, choosing the next exit on the highway or pulling off to the side of the road when it is safe to do so. Getting off the road with the drunk driver substantially decreases your risk of a serious car wreck.

Call the Police

A potential drunk driver on the road is enough of an emergency to warrant a call to 911. Take out your cellphone – only after you have pulled over – and dial 911 to report a drunk driver. Note that while it is always safer to pull over to make a phone call, if you must do so while driving, it is legal in Florida to talk on a handheld cellphone if it is for emergencies only. You can also use a hands-free device to call 911 at any time.

Give the police the license plate number and vehicle description of the alleged drunk driver. Tell the police what you saw and why you believe the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Give the police as much information as you can, including where you last saw the vehicle and the direction in which it was traveling. The police will need this information to try to spot and catch the drunk driver. You may give the officer your name and request a follow-up or report a drunk driver anonymously.

Never Try to Stop or Confront a Drunk Driver

Never drive your car parallel to a drunk driver, try to pull up to the driver’s window, follow a drunk driver, try to pass a drunk driver or try to stop a drunk driver. Do not get in front of the drunk driver and hit your brakes to try to stop him or her or run the vehicle off the road, for example. While your heart may be in the right place, this is an extremely dangerous idea that could give you serious personal injuries if it leads to a collision. Wait in a safe location and let the police do their jobs.

Do not honk, yell at or follow a potentially drunk driver. Your actions could distract the driver more and contribute to a car accident. It could also enrage the drunk driver, potentially leading to a dangerous situation for you and your passengers. An angry drunk driver may try to ram your car, tailgate you, follow you home or instigate a physical altercation. The driver may have a weapon in the vehicle. The best thing you can do for everyone involved if you spot a drunk driver is to pull over in a safe location and call 911. If you need legal help or if you were involved with a drunk driver accident, call a DUI accident attorney in Tampa, Florida.


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