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Drunk Driver Is Ahead, What Do You Do?

Updated on May 18, 2013

Know What You Would Do?

You’re driving down the freeway in the middle lane and you notice that two cars ahead in the right lane is a driver who is having a really hard time keeping their car on the road. It almost hits the guard rail and you flinch. The car behind the erratic driver slows way down to give the unpredictable driver some room. Meanwhile, you also slow down because the last thing you want to do is get next to this car which is now swerving way into your lane and back towards the guard rail. It’s obvious to you and the cars around you that this person is impaired by something! Is it alcohol? Is it Drugs? You don’t really care at that time, you just want to stay clear.

What Are You Thinking?

The conversation that goes on in your head is very fast and very conflicted when you’re in the moment.

You think, ‘Should I call 911 on this person and get them off the road before they kill someone?’

‘Maybe I will just follow them and make sure they get to where they’re going safely.’

‘What if I’m wrong and this is just someone who wasn’t paying attention for a min, and swerved?’

‘Maybe someone else has already called. I mean, everyone can see how this person is driving.’

‘I really need to get home, maybe it’s none of my business.’

As the driver comes within inches of the guard rail now your heart jumps to your throat and you think,

‘Could I live with myself if something happens to this driver or someone else and I didn't call?’

Guilt Sets In

Then you get a mental flash of everyone you've ever known who have gotten a DUI citation and how much money they've had to spend and how much strain it puts on some families. Right at that time you think of all the people who have lost family and friends to Drunk Drivers and the all of the needless pain it has caused innocent people.

Selfish Thoughts

You grab your phone and call 911. As it’s ringing you notice the car exiting the freeway, at your exit. Your first selfish thought is, ’Oh no, this driver could live by MY family.’ Then immediate guilt sets in and you realize, ‘this driver lives by SOMEONES family.’

While on the phone with the 911 Operator you’re following the driver in order to give as much detail as you can. The car is turning onto side roads with no other traffic so it becomes obvious that you are following them and you begin to think, ‘What if this person is on a drug other than alcohol and it makes them paranoid or violent?’ ‘What if they stop the car, get out and try to hurt me?’


When you’re done with the call and safely on your way home, there is a cloud of guilt and shame looming over your feeling of satisfaction for having done the right thing. The guilt and shame is for all the selfish thoughts that ran in your head and all the justifications that prevented you from calling right away.


This situation happened to me last night.

I have always prided myself on being the kind of person who takes a stand for what’s right and firmly believes in accountability.

I grew up in a home that was ruined by alcohol and I don’t allow any drinking around my kids because of it. If someone is being mistreated, discriminated against or bullied, I am always the one who comes to their defense.

I am a firm advocate against Drunk Driving. So why did I hesitate to get involved when the time came to really make a difference?

I’m not sure but, it has made me reevaluate who I actually am as opposed to who I think I am.

Would you report a Drunk Driver?

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    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      mmushin, I'm so sorry about your situation! It is really sad to have an elected leader of the community who is in such a bad way. As a citizen your only real possibility of getting this person off the roadways and keeping the community safe is to call 911 every time you know they are driving drunk. When calls come in, law enforcement is obligated to investigate the charge even if they don't personally witness any wrong doing. Even if he is a 'good drunk driver', they will have to check it out. You have a right and responsibility to make that call each time you see this person break that law and endanger innocent people. Eventually their luck will run out and the rest of the community will become the lucky ones! I truly wish you the best of luck! :)

    • profile image

      mmushin 5 years ago

      We have an elected official in our town that is a drunk and drives drunk. How he keeps getting elected is beyond reason. Everyone in town (cops and fireman) know he's a drunk and drives drunk. The cops can't pull him over unless he does something that causes a traffic stop. He must be a good drunk driver. Most of the townspeople don't know he is a drunk. How can I alert the public to this menace? He is so stupid and juvenile. It makes me crazy knowing he could kill or main a loved one due to his addiction. HELP!!!

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      You should be proud of yourself! A little time has past since my encounter and as I look back, I'm glad I made the decision that i did. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had done nothing, it would haunt me.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I had a similar experience. And I know how you felt about procrastinating at first. I also went through the thought process, thinking if I should get involved or not. I even thought about the fact that using a cell phone while driving is illegal. But then I figured if I'm calling the police it shouldn't matter.

      I finally did call 911, and described the erratic driver and location we were passing on the highway. They told me they had a squad car up ahead on the side of the highway.

      I stayed behind the erratic driver for the same reason you did. I didn't want to get too close for fear of being involved in an accident. By the time we passed the squad car, the erratic driver was handling himself better and I thought that the cop won't notice him and he'll just pass by. But evidently my description of his vehicle was reported to the cop in the squad car. Because I saw the cop quickly pull out and go after him.

      I don't know what happened next because I continued on my way. But at least I felt secure that I may have saved someone's life.

    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 5 years ago from Ireland

      Very interesting hub. I think you were completely right to report the driver - you might have saved someone's life. It's not your fault this man or woman was an idiot and decided to drive while drunk, so you shouldn't be so hard on yourself.

      Well done on doing the right thing.

    • KDF profile image

      KDF 5 years ago from Central Illinois

      You would think that after all the aftermath and the tragedy's that take place due to drunk driving, people would get the message. Sadly, they don't

      I'm glad you reported them, I would too in a heartbeat. It amazes me that 9/10 times an accident involving a drunk driver leads to the innocent victim dying while the drunk gets to live and receive 3 meals a day on my tax dollars!!!!!!!!!!

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Your right HattieMattieMae. There are many choices we can make instead of driving intoxicated. Thank you for sharing!

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 5 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      I don't think you feel guilt and shame for calling on them. You may have saved someone's life. I usually do call on them the minute I see them. There is no reason to drink and drive. I know you can sit somewhere in your for a last resort until you sober up, friends can drive you home. You can call someone. You can walk it off until your sober. You can sleep over if you're at a friends. When I was younger my friends and me always made sure there was someone that was sober to drive, we slept over, or walked until we were sober. We never got in a car for any reason. So I know when others do it, it is just them being stupid. I even had a bartender drive me home one time because my friend was being stupid, and wouldn't give me the keys. I didn't want to drink, and didn't want him too. He was mad because I was sober and left him at the bar, but my life was more important that drinking. He was an alcoholic so in those cases you can call a million times 911, but they never stop doing it. So fortunately for alcoholics they need to be picked up so they lose their license, but again some keep doing it anyway. They complain because legally they can't drive, but continue doing it. It's incredible that even when they are in a car accident they choose to keep doing it. Some people just don't learn, so of course I don't feel guilty for reporting them, because I don't know if they are one of those people that never learn there lesson, and it just takes once to kill someone.

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, you are absolutely right! I did end up calling and reporting the driver once I was certain that they were intoxicated and, I'm glad I did. I was just really surprised at my own initial hesitation.

    • dadibobs profile image

      dadibobs 5 years ago from Manchester, England

      The fear of being wrong is huge.

      There is a real risk of becoming involved with any subsequent prosecution of this person, for example court, and therefore the issues of should you get involved become apparent.

      Due to this persons actions you are now doubting yourself, but you have already listed everything that flew through your mind, all within a matter of minutes.

      Only you can decide what you should have done, only you were there, but i don't think it's fair to beat yourself up about it.

      This persons actions have caused you to feel this way, thank god they didn't cause a crash, but there is still something you could do.

      Report the incident anyway, anonymously if you feel you need to, for once a drunk driver, normally always a drunk driver. By reporting it after the fact, the car would be flagged for future police attention, therefore they are much more likely to be stopped by the police, preventing this incident from being repeated.

      This is just one of those selfish acts, which leaves normal balanced people feeling discomfort and doubt, just remember, you didn't do this.

      Hope it helps