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What to Do If You See a Drunk Driver in West Virginia

Posted in Safety Tips on January 31, 2019

Drunk driving is a leading cause of traffic-related deaths in the United States. If you suspect someone is driving drunk on a West Virginia road, first give him or her plenty of room, then call the police. Taking appropriate action can help prevent DUI accidents in West Virginia and potentially save lives.

Identifying Drunk Drivers on the Road

Alcohol impairs driving ability in several serious ways.

  • Excessive alcohol consumption decreases inhibitions and makes people more likely to engage in risky behaviors.
  • Drinking impairs judgment and can make it difficult to make proper snap decisions on the road in changing traffic conditions.
  • Alcohol impairs vision, making it harder to judge distance and speed. It can also make it harder to spot changing traffic signals in time to stop or slow down when necessary.
  • Excessive drinking can cause a driver to fall asleep or pass out behind the wheel. It can cause a veer into oncoming traffic or into parked cars or pedestrians on the side of the road.
  • Alcohol can make it difficult to maintain control of a vehicle or keep it from swerving into other lanes.

The first sign of a drunk driver is usually erratic driving. If you notice a driver in front of you constantly swerving into the next lane, failing to engage turn signals when appropriate, or displaying uneven braking and acceleration, that driver may be under the influence of alcohol.

What to Do When You See an Intoxicated Driver

If you observe an erratic driver and believe he or she is under the influence of alcohol, notify the police by calling 911. Stop and park your vehicle or use a hands-free device to safely make the call. The sooner you report the drunk driver, the sooner the police can locate and stop him or her. Also, provide a callback number in case the police need to get in touch with you. Give the police a description of the vehicle, the license number if you can discern it safely, a description of the driver if possible, and the drunk driver’s last observed location.

Although rare, some average citizens have attempted to stop drunk drivers themselves. This is not only inadvisable but dangerous. Do not engage with any drivers, especially when drunk. A drunk driver cannot handle a vehicle the same way a sober person can. Avoiding them is the best way to prevent accidents in these situations. After reporting a drunk driver, carry on to your destination as usual. Be satisfied you possibly helped prevent a serious accident, injury, or even fatality due to drunk driving.

Possible DUI Penalties

Drivers convicted of a DUI will likely face fines, driver’s license suspension, and possibly even jail time. These penalties increase with multiple offenses and offenders will likely also need to complete required drug and alcohol education classes and complete community service in addition to their other penalties. DUI convictions can also pose several problems later in life. Lack of a driver’s license due to suspension can lead to loss of employment opportunities. Additionally, a criminal record may interfere with the ability to secure financial aid, gain admission to some schools, or pursue a career in the military.

If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries due to an accident with a drunk driver, consult with a West Virginia accident attorney to discuss your available legal options. If a jury convicts the drunk driver, restitution payments to victims may comprise part of his or her punishment and you can pursue additional compensation through a civil claim.