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How to spot a drunk driver

Most people understand how to identify a motorist who is behaving aggressively, or one who is driving recklessly. Spotting other, less distinct signs of trouble is also important, though. That's why it is vital for all drivers, no matter their level of experience, to regularly review how to spot other drivers who have been drinking.

The drunk driving spectrum

Remember, not all impaired driving leads to intense and erratic behavior. More often, the signs are subtle and the risks are harder to calculate until there is already a problem happening. Looking out for these individual behaviors helps to identify drunk drivers who might be under the influence and therefore, a risk. These actions include:

  • Illegal turns
  • Crossing or straddling the center line
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Nearly hitting objects on the side of the road
  • Driving more slowly than normal
  • Frequent braking, including unnecessary stops

Additionally, drivers who have had too much to drink may drive at night without their headlights on, tailgate other vehicles, turn on their signal light but continue straight, or even hit their brakes or try to stop in the middle of the road.

Handling a possible drunk driver

If you suspect that a driver is drunk, the best thing to do is to find a way to distance yourself from his or her vehicle. Depending on how erratic the driving is, this might mean simply passing the other car when the opportunity presents itself.

In other cases, especially where the driver is drifting between lanes and passing might be dangerous, finding an alternate route or slowing down to let the driver get ahead both work to get you out of the situation without putting yourself or your passengers at risk. Once you are out of danger, you should report the driver to law enforcement.

In the event of an accident

If you are injured in a drunk driving accident, the law allows you to hold the driver accountable for the costs of any injuries via a civil suit. Tennessee law also treats these accidents as vehicular assaults and drivers can face criminal charges.

The law also allows authorities to file escalating charges for those who are convicted of multiple DUI offenses, to discourage repeat behavior. In some ways this can make a civil suit easier, because the criminal case may provide evidence that helps to establish the driver's blood alcohol content level and thereby prove liability.

Recuperating your expenses after a motor vehicle accident is never easy, which is why prevention is the best course of action. In the event that there is a collision and the other driver has been drinking, reviewing your available options with an attorney is often your wisest course of action.

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