How to Stop a Drunk Driver

It’s happened to almost all of us. You’re out with some friends or colleagues, you’ve had a drink or two when suddenly you realize you should not drive. Good for you! But how do you deal with someone who’s passed the limit and still thinks they can drive?

Planning ahead is always the best way to prevent drunk driving. Whether you designate a driver to stay sober for the night or make plans to call a cab or take transit, a safe night starts with a safe plan. Get everyone in your group to agree and stick to it.

But sometimes, someone tries to drive while impaired. It’s dangerous. What can you do? According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), there are a few things you should (and shouldn’t) do to stop them from driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Don’t be confrontational

Alcohol reduces our inhibitions, so even someone who is normally easy-going can turn into a mean drunk after a few. Confrontation can set them off. So be firm. But keep your cool.

Offer a safe alternative

Find them a cab, track down a sober driver, or plot out a bus route home. Offer to pay if that’s an issue or let them sleep it off at your place. Let them know there are many options, but driving drunk is not one of them.

Speak slowly

Remember, they’ve been drinking and alcohol reduces our ability to process information. Talk to your friend in a slower manner than usual and explain the danger.

Get help from friends

Turn to others from your group to join in and act as moral support. It’s harder to fight off a group and it’s easier to persuade when the numbers are on your side.

Grab their keys

You can’t drive without keys, so if you can, take the keys. They’ll thank you later.

Report them

If nothing else works, then let the police do the job for you. It’s far better that they get pulled over and arrested than they kill or be killed in a drunken crash.

For more information

  • MADD says confronting loved ones can be tough, News 1130
  • The Magnitude of the Alcohol/Drug-Related Crash Problem in Canada, MADD Canada
  • ‘I can’t stop you from drinking and driving … My dead children can’t’, The Hamilton Spectator

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Tony Vecchio, K.C.
Anthony (Tony) Vecchio, K.C., founded Slater Vecchio in January 1998. He has been counsel on some of the largest cases in British Columbia.