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Listed below are clues suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as ways to recognize drunk or otherwise impaired drivers:

  • Turning with a wide radius.
  • Straddling the center of the road or lane marker.
  • Appearing to be drunk (i.e., eye fixation, face close to windshield, drinking in the vehicle).
  • Almost striking an object or other vehicle.
  • Weaving or zigzagging across the road.
  • Driving on other than a designated roadway.
  • Swerving or abruptly turning away from a generally straight course.
  • Turning abruptly or illegally.
  • Driving slower than 10 mph below speed limit.
  • Stopping without cause in a traffic lane.
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane).
  • Following others too closely.
  • Drifting or moving in a straight-line at a slight angle to the roadway.
  • Erratic braking.
  • Driving into opposing or crossing traffic.
  • Signaling that is inconsistent with driving actions.
  • Slow response to traffic signals (sudden stop, delayed start).
  • Driving with headlights off.


Call the police or 911. Once connected with a law enforcement agency, provide them with the following information (remember, when using a cell phone, you are always connected to the CHP and they cannot pinpoint your location. They don't know your phone number either. So provide your location and phone number FIRST when using a cell phone.)

  1. Tell them you wish to report a suspected drunk driver.
  2. Give the exact location (identify road and direction) of the vehicle.
  3. Give a complete description of the vehicle, such as make, model, color, license number, etc.
  4. Describe the manner in which the vehicle is being driven.


  • Do not attempt to stop the vehicle.
  • Do not attempt to follow if the vehicle is exceeding the posted limit or if any other hazard may exist due to following the vehicle.
  • Do not disregard any traffic signals in an attempt to keep the driver in view.
  • Do not follow the drunk driver too closely because they may stop suddenly.
  • Do not get so engrossed in following the drunk driver that you begin weaving in the road with the drunk driver.
  • Do not attempt to detain the drunk driver if they stop.
    Do not attempt to act in the capacity of any police, fire or medical person unless you are properly trained and authorized to perform that function.
  • Do not attempt to assist any law enforcement officer while they are apprehending a drunk driver unless requested.