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Signs that a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs

If you were injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver or one under the influence of drugs, it may seem like they came out of nowhere. Indeed, they may have. We don’t expect someone to run a red light or stop sign or to suddenly swerve into our lane, for example.

However, as you venture back out on to the roads, probably a little (or a lot) more anxious about other drivers than you used to be, there are ways to spot an impaired driver. Some signs of impairment include:

  • Weaving, drifting or swerving (within their lane or in to another lane)
  • Slow reactions at traffic signals
  • Tailgating
  • Not having headlights on at night
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving too slowly
  • Turning too widely

Drivers who are doing one or more of these things may not be impaired. They may be distracted, drowsy or sick. These things can all be dangerous as well.

If you see a driver behaving erratically, keep your distance. If possible, stay behind them so that you can see them. Call 911 as soon as you can do so safely. The more information you can provide, the better chance law enforcement will have of catching them. This includes their location, direction they’re traveling, their license plate number and a description of the vehicle (color, make and model).

Don’t try to confront the driver. You don’t know what their state of mind is. Leave that to the professionals.

Remember that even though a drunk driver will likely face consequences in the criminal courts for causing a crash, they can also be held liable in civil court. Victims and surviving family members can seek compensation for expenses and damages. An experienced attorney can help work to do that.


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