The 8 Signs of Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in Canada. According to Transport Canada “In 2008, coroners’ testing showed that almost 40% of fatally injured drivers had been drinking some amount of alcohol (HBD) prior to the collision.” Groups such as MADD and the RCMP have made substantial progress generating public awareness on the deadly effects of drunk driving, but, it still happens in our communities today. 

For some unfortunate drivers, a drunk driver can seemingly come out of nowhere - running through a red light, or swerving into the wrong lane. It’s in those situations that potentially fatal accidents occur.

Knowing the signs of a drunk driver can enable you to prevent those dangerous situations. By calling 911 and alerting the police of a drunk driver, you lower the probability of a fatal accident occurring and potentially save lives. Read on for 8 ways to spot a drunk driver. 

Blue light flasher atop of a police car. City lights on the background.

The 8 signs of drunk driving

Alcohol affects our judgement, vision, and reaction time. When a drunk person gets behind the wheel, their ability to drive safely is significantly hindered. Look for these signs of unsafe driving that indicate intoxication. 

  • Weaving across lanes. The driver cannot maintain their lane and is zigzagging all over the road. 
  • Accelerating and braking abruptly. The driver is braking seemingly at random or accelerating excessively.
  • Inappropriate use of headlights. The driver is driving with their lights off at night or driving in the city with high-beams on. 
  • Slow response to traffic signs. The driver is slow to accelerate when stopped at a green light, or jams on the brakes at a 4-way stop. 
  • Incorrect signalling. The driver signals a left turn but doesn’t turn left, or doesn’t signal when changing lanes/ turning. 
  • Tailgating. The driver is following dangerously close behind another car. 
  • Driving well under the speed limit. The driver is driving 20 kph under the speed limit.
  • Almost hitting a vehicle, pedestrian or object. The driver is swerving dangerously on the road and almost colliding with other cars and people. 

What to do when you encounter a drunk driver

When you see a drunk driver, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re safe. If you’re driving, don’t attempt to pass the drunk driver and don’t signal them to pull over. You’re putting yourself at risk and could end up causing an accident. 

Maintain a safe distance from the driver, and take note of their license plate number, as well as the type of vehicle they’re driving. Only attempt to obtain this information if you can do so in a safe manner - if the drunk driver is speeding, don’t speed to follow them. 

Once you have gathered as much info on the car as possible, pull over and call 911. Make sure to include the name of the street the car was travelling on and in which direction. From there the police will handle the matter and hopefully be able to prevent an accident from happening.

For more resources on preventing drunk driving, consider our links below. If you have been injured because of a drunk driver, don’t hesitate to contact us here, or call 1-888-434-0398. 

More resources on drunk driving:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

RCMP - Impaired Driving Resources

The Human Cost of Impaired Driving in Canada - Department of Justice