Drunk driving is illegal. Unfortunately, people still decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated every day. It’s not only dangerous to them—it’s dangerous and deadly for everyone else on the road as well. Their reckless decision could be the difference between life and death for another person.
That’s why it’s so important for you to be vigilant on the road—drunk drivers could be sharing the road with you at any time during the day. That’s why you should always be paying attention to other drivers and be prepared for the worst.
While you can’t always avoid drunk drivers, knowing how to spot them and how to drive defensively can keep you as safe as possible. Let’s take a look at how to avoid them as best as you can.
Signs of a Drunk Driver
Before you can learn how to avoid a drunk driver on the road, you’ll need to know what signs indicate that a driver is drunk in the first place. If you don’t know what to look for, you won’t know who to avoid.
According to the National Highways Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), over 10,000 people lost their lives to drunk driving crashes in 2019. All of these deaths were preventable if the driver chose not to get behind the wheel. Being able to identify a drunk driver could also help prevent these deaths from occurring.
Even if you don’t know the signs, you still might be able to figure out that another driver is drunk because they’re driving strangely. However, you might not be able to quickly identify them as intoxicated.
That’s why knowing the signs of a drunk driver is important—you can quickly figure out they’re intoxicated and know to avoid them. Here are some of the signs that another driver on the road is drunk:
- Erratic behavior
- Quickly speeding up or slowing down
- Drifting in the lane or zig-zagging
- Weaving through lanes
- Erratic braking
- Delayed or no reaction to traffic signs and signals
- Making illegal turns
- Making abrupt turns or other movements
- Driving the wrong way or in places that aren’t for cars
- Over-correcting and swerving
- Headlights off at night
- Not signaling or signaling improperly
- Striking objects
Any one of these behaviors on their own can be scary when you’re sharing the road with another driver. When you see them doing one or more of the errors listed above, you likely will feel in your gut that something is wrong. Even if what they’re doing isn’t listed above, if you get the feeling in your gut that they’re not driving sober, then you’re probably right.
Once you identify that a driver is drunk, then you can start making decisions to keep yourself safe and avoid them. Let’s take a look at what you can do to avoid drunk drivers.
How to Defend Yourself While Driving Near a Drunk Driver
After seeing another driver on the road acting erratically and suspecting they’re drunk, there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe. Of course, you can’t fully predict what they’re going to do because they’re being reckless, and their decision-making processes are impaired. But you can do your best to defend yourself through defensive driving.
Defensive driving is the act of recognizing and predicting other drivers’ behaviors and adjusting your driving to keep yourself safe. Through paying attention to drivers around you and never assuming they’re going to drive safely, you can reduce the chance of an accident by half. This way of driving helps especially when you notice a driver is under the influence.
Here are some of the ways you can avoid drunk drivers and keep yourself safe on the road if you suspect someone else is impaired:
- Keep a safe distance from that driver, ideally as far as possible
- Take extra time at intersections to look both ways
- Don’t expect someone to stop at an intersection just because they have a stop light or stop sign
- Avoid driving late at night on weekends and on holidays, especially summer holidays and New Year’s Eve
- If you have to drive on a dangerous night, don’t take the long way home—make your drive as short as possible to reduce time on the road
- Wear your seatbelt
- Stay alert
If you suspect another driver is drunk and you are keeping your distance, something you can do to protect others is to call 911. Report what you’re seeing and as many details about the vehicle and driver as possible, but don’t try to get closer just to see.
This might feel like being a tattle tale, but think about it—you’re reporting their incredibly dangerous behavior to protect yourself and any other people on the road. By alerting the police and possibly getting that driver pulled over, you’re potentially keeping them from making this reckless decision again.
What Are the DUI Requirements in Illinois?
With all this information in mind, you might be wondering what is considered drunk driving in Illinois. When a driver is pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, an officer will test their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. According to a fact book as published by the Illinois Secretary of State, these are the BAC limits for drunk drivers in our state:
- .00 for drivers under 21
- .00 for school bus drivers
- .04 for commercial driver’s license holders
- .08 for drivers 21 and over
For example, if a driver under the age of 21 is pulled over and blows a .01 BAC, they will be charged with a DUI. Comparatively, if a driver 21 or older is pulled over and blows a .01 BAC, they likely will not be charged with a DUI, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re off the hook if they were driving suspiciously enough to be pulled over.
When a driver is charged with a DUI, the offense could range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class X felony depending on the BAC, their age, whether or not a child under 16 was in the car, and how many previous DUI convictions they’ve had. You can find the scale of penalties and fines in that fact book linked above.
If you’ve been struck by a drunk driver because they were unavoidable, then you can rest assured you will get justice for what happened to you. Not only will they be charged with a DUI, but you can also fight to get compensation for the damages they’ve caused you. Our car accident lawyer can help you with your drunk driving accident claim.
Our Car Accident Lawyer Is Here to Help
No matter how vigilant you are while driving, and no matter how hard you try to stay safe on the road, a drunk driver can completely ruin that. Even if you’re driving defensively, a drunk driver’s recklessness can still cause a collision with you and cause severe injuries and even death. That’s where our Peru car accident comes in.
The attorneys at Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP can help you with your drunk driving accident claim and ensure that you are supported every step of the way. You deserve to recover full and fair compensation so you can heal. Reach out to our office today so we can start helping you right away.