What to do if you suspect a drunk driver is in your midst

If an Illinois driver imbibes alcohol then gets behind the wheel of a car to drive, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she will be illegally operating a motor vehicle. Alcohol may affect your body a lot differently than it affects another person. In fact, if you drink a particular type of alcohol on one occasion, it may affect you differently than the same kind of drink on another day.  

Many factors have an impact on how your bloodstream absorbs alcohol and how it affects your brain, such as whether or not you were eating and drinking water while you imbibed, how much you weigh and, of course, how much alcohol you happened to have consumed. You can control your own choices, but there may little you can do to change another person's actions. You are at great risk for injury if a drunk driver is sharing your roadway.  

When someone has had too much to drink  

Let's say you're out with a group of friends and it appears that one of them has had too much alcohol to safely and perhaps legally drive a car. The following list includes some of the things you can to try to keep that person from driving:  

  • If you have your own vehicle with you, you might consider offering the apparently intoxicated person a ride.
  • It may be helpful to try to gain possession of the person's car keys, which can be tricky if the other person becomes combative. You might try using calm, persuasive language, perhaps asking if you can hold the keys for a minute while you discuss something with him or her.
  • Especially if you have a close relationship with the person in question, you can suggest that he or she has had too much to drink to safely or legally drive and offer to help secure alternate means of transportation.  If the person refuses your offers and you witness him or her moving toward the door with keys in hand, you might determine it necessary to alert local authorities or the manager of the establishment, who can then call police.  

What if you're already on the road? 

If you suspect a nearby driver is intoxicated, you may be able to safely distance yourself from the vehicle. That is not always possible, however, as drunk driving collisions often occur suddenly when a driver careens across traffic lanes, takes a bend too widely or carries out other dangerous actions. Remember the following:  

  • If you can safely exit the road or drop back in traffic, it may help you avoid a collision, but it's never a good idea to try to pass a vehicle you suspect has a drunk driver at the wheel. 
  • If you have a passenger in your car, ask him or her to write down or take a photograph of the license plate number so that you can report the vehicle to police. If you're traveling alone, try to memorize the number. 
  • Also, take mental note of the vehicle's color, model and make.  

Drunk driving accidents often have fatal or catastrophic results. There is no reason you should bear the full burden of expenses related to a drunk driving accident when another person's poor choices caused you or your loved one to suffer injury. Recovering from the emotional trauma of a drunk driving accident can be just as difficult as physical recovery. Seeking financial restitution in court may provide monies to help you cover the costs of physical and mental health care following a drunk driving collision.

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