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Steven M. Lee, PC

Q:
What are signs that the driver who hit me was drunk? How can I point this out to the police officer?

A:

Far too many car accidents are caused by drunk drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9,967 people were killed in drunk driving wrecks in 2014—nearly one-third of all fatalities. If you are the victim of an auto crash, there may be signs that the driver was intoxicated that you need to watch for and to inform the police officer about to strengthen your claim for compensation for your injuries.

What Are the Signs That a Negligent Driver Was Drunk?

Drunk drivers often exhibit signs of intoxication both when they are driving and after the crash before the police arrive. Driving behaviors that suggest the driver was intoxicated include:

  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or the wrong way on a one-way street or highway entrance or exit ramp.
  • Making too-wide turns.
  • Crossing the center lane on a road.
  • Weaving in between vehicles.
  • Engaging in aggressive driving practices, such as tailgating or speeding.
  • Driving significantly slower than other traffic.
  • Exhibiting slower reaction times.

Even if a driver was not engaging in these unsafe driving practices, you may notice other indications that he was drunk after the crash. These can be actions that the driver takes to hide his intoxication. You should be on alert for the following:

  • See if you detect the smell of alcohol or marijuana on the other driver’s breath. If you smell mouthwash, he may have used a breath spray to try to conceal the odor.
  • Be alert for the driver using eye drops before the officer arrives to try to hide the signs of drug or alcohol use.
  • Watch to see if the driver hides or disposes of cans, bottles, drugs, or drug paraphernalia before speaking to you or while waiting for the police officer to arrive.

Be certain right away of who the driver was at the time of the accident. Some drivers may try to switch places with a passenger to hide the fact that they were driving when they were drunk.

Tips on Notifying the Police About Your Suspicions That the Other Driver Was Drunk

Once the police officer arrives at the scene, you will need to inform him of your concerns. He will take a statement from the other driver and you, so you will have an opportunity to do this. Follow these tips when alerting the officer:

  • Be calm and polite.
  • Follow the officer’s instructions.
  • Tell the police officer of any driving signs and post-accident evidence that the negligent driver was drunk. The police officer will need probable cause to administer a field sobriety test or blood alcohol content test. He may need the information that you provide to establish probable cause if he did not observe any signs of this or if the driver was trying to conceal his intoxication.
  • Ask the police officer to investigate whether the driver was intoxicated and, in a respectful manner, be insistent if he is reluctant to do so.

You should obtain a copy of the police report as you will need it when you file your claim. In addition, it can be persuasive evidence of the other driver’s liability when negotiating a settlement with his insurance company.

Even if the police officer arrests the other driver for drunk driving, you cannot assume that the settlement of your claim will go smoothly. You need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney to ensure that you receive the full value of your claim. To learn how attorney Steve Lee can help you obtain justice and the compensation that you deserve, call our office to schedule your free consultation.

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