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How to Spot an Impaired Driver

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2022 | Adams Law Firm, Auto Safety, Personal Injury Law

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day, 32 people die across the U.S. in drunk-driving accidents. Impaired driving claims the lives of the driver, passengers, and others on the roadway. Knowing how to spot an impaired driver can help save lives.

4 Signs of an Impaired Driver

The NHTSA compiled a DWI Detection Guide to help drivers identify impaired drivers simply from visual cues. While it may seem difficult to know for sure whether a driver is impaired or simply erratic or reckless, the probability that a driver is impaired if they display at least two of the following signs is 50% or more:

Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position

If a driver is displaying any of the following signs, there is a 50-75% chance that they are impaired:

  • Weaving
  • Weaving across lane lines
  • Straddling a lane line
  • Swerving
  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Drifting
  • Almost striking a vehicle or other object

Speeding and Braking Problems

If a driver is displaying any of the following signs, there is a 45-70% chance that they are impaired:

  • Stopping problems (too far, too short, or too jerky)
  • Accelerating or decelerating for no apparent reason
  • Varying speed
  • Slow speed (10+ mph under the speed limit)

Vigilance Problems

If a driver is displaying any of the following signs, there is a 55-65% chance that they are impaired:

  • Driving in opposing lanes or the wrong way on one-way
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Stopping in the lane for no apparent reason
  • Driving without headlights at night
  • Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with action

Judgment Problems

If a driver is displaying any of the following signs, there is a 30-95% chance that they are impaired:

  • Following too closely
  • Improper or unsafe lane change
  • Illegal or improper turn (too fast, jerky, sharp, etc.)
  • Driving on other than the designated roadway
  • Inappropriate or unusual behavior (throwing stuff, arguing, etc.)

What You Should Do If You Spot an Impaired Driver

If you spot an impaired driver and are able to safely pull over, do so, put your hazards on, and call 9-1-1. You will want to take note of the location, license plate (if easily obtained), car description, car direction, and driver behavior. Keeping your hazards on while pulled over enables other drivers to see you more clearly, and protects you while on the side or shoulder of the road.

If you are unable to safely pull over, keep the following in mind:


  • Do give the driver plenty of space so that you have time to react to a traffic incident if one arises.
  • Do stay calm. While sharing the road with an impaired driver can be stressful, you do not want to allow your stress to impact your driving or decision-making.


  • Do not try to intervene directly or attempt to stop the impaired driver on your own.
  • Do not try to pass the driver, as they may swerve unexpectedly.

Macon Car Accident Attorneys

Speaking with an experienced car accident attorney is the first step you should take if you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident. Whether or not you hire an attorney, having a free, confidential consultation with an attorney will help you figure out your next steps.

At Adams Law Firm, we strive to help people in Macon and throughout Georgia understand the legal process when someone is injured in a car accident. From expensive medical bills and lost wages to physical and emotional pain and distress, we consider all aspects of a potential car accident case. Our experience has prepared us for the individual challenges that each case presents.

Call our firm today at 478-772-3939 for a free consultation or fill out this short form.