15 Obvious Signs of a Drunk Driver (& How to Report Them)

St. Patrick’s Day can bring out the worst in drivers. Between 2012 and 2016, approximately 69% of all fatal crashes on St. Patty’s Day were caused by drunk driving, and ¾ of those crashes involved a driver whose blood alcohol level was 2 times the legal limit of 0.08.

Although nothing can eliminate the risk of exposure to drunk drivers this St. Paddy’s Day, you can avoid dangerous on-road situations by spotting these 15 common warning signs of someone driving while intoxicated.

1. Weaving Between Lanes

An inability to maintain lane position is the #1 sign that a driver is impaired. According to police, a driver is 50% more likely to be intoxicated if they are zig-zagging between lanes or swerving to stay within the lines.

2. Driving Without Headlights

Officers also note that drivers who operate a vehicle at night without the use of headlights are more likely to be impaired. The inability to notice their own driving conditions is a common trait amongst those who have been arrested for a DUI.

3. Tailgating

Tailgating is dangerous as it is, but when you put an impaired driver with poor reaction time behind the wheel, that drunk tailgater can cause a fatal wreck.

4. Speeding

Impaired drivers frequently have difficulty adjusting their speed to go along with the flow with traffic. Due to their lack of vigilance, drunk drivers normally overlook speed limit signs, as well.

5. Driving Too Slow

Similarly, drivers who are under the influence of alcohol may attempt to skirt the law by driving slower than the speed limit. If you notice a vehicle going 10 mph below the limit, its operator could potentially be tipsy; they could also just be cautious, so keep an eye out for other telltale signs of a DWI before passing judgment or reporting them.

6. Slow Response to Traffic Lights

Due to a lack of awareness, drunk drivers are usually unable to react well to changing road conditions, including traffic lights. If you notice a driver who stops suddenly at a red light or accelerates too slowly when the light turns green, they could be intoxicated.

7. Not Stopping at Stop Signs

We’ve all accidentally driven through stop signs before—usually they’re hidden by trees or bushes—but impaired motorists are 300% more likely to run a stop sign, even if that sign is blinking red.

8. Inability to Turn Properly

Drunk drivers tend to misjudge distance, which is quite visible when they attempt to turn. Making illegal U-turns, turning too abruptly, or taking too wide a turn are common signs that a driver may be DUI.

9. Improper Signaling

Misuse of turn signals is another sign of driving impairment. Drivers using the wrong turn signal to make turns or change lanes, while also displaying other traits of a drunk driver, should be monitored by and reported to the authorities.

10. Erratic Acceleration & Braking

Impaired drivers may not know the true power their foot wields. This results in inconsistencies with speed and, particularly, acceleration “off the line.”

Applying the brakes for no apparent reason is another common action shared by most impaired motorists.

11. Driving on the Shoulder

Drunk drivers have been known to misidentify the shoulder of the road with actual lanes. This is obviously dangerous for other motorists, though pedestrians are most at risk in these situations.

12. Sleeping on the Shoulder

It’s not uncommon to find intoxicated motorists passed out or asleep in the shoulder, too. Some put their hazard lights on; some just keep their foot on the brake pedal and call it a night. Either way, it’s an unwise decision that should be questioned by any passersby. 

13. Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

If you see a car zipping on the wrong side of the road and into oncoming traffic, its driver is either from England or drunk. In both instances, the police should be notified before something catastrophic happens.

14. Almost Hitting Curbs, Objects or Vehicles

Near-misses happen to all of us on occasion, but impaired drivers will typically have many of these over the course of just minutes. Any motorist who is barely missing curbs or parked cars should be considered dangerous.

15. Appearance of Impairment

The most common visual cues that a driver is under the influence of alcohol include: resting a head to one side, positioning too closely to the windshield, droopy eyes, fumbling with in-car components, and having an open container in the vehicle.

How to Deal with Drunk Drivers in Birmingham

Your vigilance on the road goes a long way toward making Birmingham safer. If you suspect someone is driving drunk or under the influence this Saint Paddy’s Day, follow this advice to report them and keep yourself protected.

  • Any suspected drunk drivers should immediately be reported. Pull over to the side of the road and call 911 or your local Birmingham police department.
  • You can also report suspicious drivers in Birmingham through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency website.
  • Note the driver’s location (street and direction) and the vehicle’s description (make, model and color).
  • If possible, jot down or take a mental note of their license plate number.
  • If you or your children have been victims in a drunk driving incident, seek help from Alabama MADD.
  • As always, keep your distance from any suspected impaired motorist!

To further ensure your security, it’s recommended you have a vehicle with the best vehicle safety features available, such as forward collision alert, rear cross path detection, and advance brake assist. They won’t altogether stop drunk drivers from ruining your night, but they’ll help prevent injuries—or worse.

Head to Jim Burke CDJR for an overview of the safety systems available in our new Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and RAM models. Contact our car dealership near Hoover at (205) 588-6285 to speak with a member of our sales team, or simply stop by when it’s most convenient. Our Birmingham car dealership is located at 1409 5th Ave N. Drive safe!



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