Nobody should ever be on the road after they have had too much alcohol to drink. The results can be devastating. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,874 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during the latest reporting year. West Virginia saw 71 alcohol-related crash fatalities in 2018.
It is important to remain vigilant when you are on the roadway. One of the best ways to avoid drunk driving crashes is to be able to spot drunk drivers.
What happens to a person’s body when they consume alcohol?
When a person consumes alcohol, their coordination worsens and their reaction times slow down. The legal limit in West Virginia is .08 percent blood alcohol concentration, but alcohol begins to affect a person’s brain at .02 percent. When a person reaches that legal limit:
- Their ability to concentrate diminishes
- They can experience short-term memory loss
- They are unable to control their speeds
- Their self-control is impaired and they operate vehicles recklessly
Five signs the driver near you is impaired by alcohol
- Driving in the Middle of the Road or the Wrong Side of the Road
If you see someone driving down the middle of the road between two lanes or driving on the wrong side of the road, there is a good chance the driver is impaired. Drunk drivers often do not realize they have turned down the wrong way. This can lead to serious head-on collisions with oncoming traffic.
Weaving or swerving is a telltale sign that a person is operating while impaired. Alcohol makes it hard for drivers to concentrate and stay on a straight path. This can include weaving over the centerline, hugging the shoulder of the road, or even driving onto the side of the roadway temporarily.
- Sudden Stops
Impaired drivers will often brake erratically. Impaired vision may lead a driver to think they see something on the roadway, or they may not have complete control over the movements their feet make.
- Traffic Violations
Impaired drivers often disobey traffic laws, including yield signs, stop signs, and traffic lights. You may also notice impaired drivers following other vehicles too closely. Impaired drivers often cannot see traffic signs clearly or fail to react to them in time.
- Speed Adjustments
Not all intoxicated drivers act the same. In some cases, they may drive much slower than the posted speed limit because they know they are impaired or they want to avoid getting pulled over. Impaired drivers often drive much faster than the legal speed limit. Both slow and fast driving can be a danger on the roadways.
What to do if you notice an impaired driver in West Virginia
If you spot a suspected drunk driver on the roadway, stay far behind them. Be prepared for their erratic behavior. Try to remember the make and model of their vehicle and get the license plate number if you can. Call 911 and give them as much information as you can, including the direction you last saw them traveling. Do not try to follow an impaired driver. This could lead to a crash or a confrontation with the driver. Let law enforcement handle the situation.
Remember, never get behind the wheel if you have had too much to drink. Call a rideshare service or a cab and get your vehicle the next day.