Monday, December 31, 2012

Reporting Drunk Driving

Happy New Year's Eve! I am on my way back from Disney World right about now but wanted to post something today that we should all keep in mind on this New Year's Eve.

On my way to a Christmas party 2 weeks ago, I was driving behind what I believed to be a drunk driver. I was carefully watching him for awhile, and very carefully keeping my distance, wanting to stay a safe distance behind him rather than anywhere in front of or next to him. The driver was so clearly drunk, he couldn't stay in his lane at all, he couldn't drive straight within the lane, he was veering every which way and it was terrifying to watch.
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After a few minutes of witnessing his atrocious driving, I eventually called 911. I didn't know who else to call, and I thought if nothing else, I could report his license plate number for it to be on file.

You know what happened?

They told me they couldn't help me. They told me that without an actual location or incident reported, there was nothing they could do. I could only continue following him, and then immediately report him should an accident occur.

Pardon me, but WTF?! So much for accident prevention. So much for keeping everyone safe on the road.

I guess it sort of makes sense. I was driving on a highway, how on earth would the police be able to find him or know exactly where he was going? By the time they got to the location from which I was reporting, we would be long gone. How would the police be able to find him or track him down without me following him closely for the next 30-60 minutes. And where was my proof? Should I have video taped his driving? And then run the risk of either getting in an accident myself or getting pulled over for using my phone?!

When I finally did get a chance to pass him clearly enough, I looked in to see an older, larger man basically slumped over in the driver's seat. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I can only hope that he didn't cause an accident that night and was able to get to his destination safely.

So I did some research into what would have been the best number to call if I ever find myself in this situation again. The DUI Foundation as well as several other websites all say the same thing:  
"It is important to know the kinds of signs to look for in determining an incidence of driving under the influence. If you see a driver doing any of these unordinary things, contact the proper authorities (911, local police, state sheriffs, etc.) immediately"
Well great...that didn't work for me. The only other numbers I could find online to call in these instances are 1-800-28DRUNK or possibly 1-877-MADD-HELP

So in the week following my drunk driving siting, I tried calling these numbers to try and get more information. I received the following recording from 1-800-28DRUNK: "Refinance your mortgage and save. Call 1-800-939-9800" and then hangs up.  Great...no help there.

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So then I called MADD and spoke to a very nice gentlemen right away. He told me that they don't do these types of reports, but I should call 911. When I told him what had happened that past weekend, he was very discouraged to hear that I had not been helped. He said they should have been able to report the incident and take down some information, but did note that a cop would have to witness the driving first-hand in order to make a report. He also told me that MADD is currently working on an app which would make reporting these incidences easier using GPS tracking (though, it should be noted driving while using your smartphone can be just as dangerous..and I can't say that this would really be the best solution). 

Have you ever been in this situation? Do you know of a better phone number to call when reporting a drunk driver?

I wish you all a happy and safe New Year's Eve!! Please be smart if you are on the road and please try and report any driver who may appear to be under the influence!

5 comments:

  1. How crazy!?!
    Glad you are OK now and that nothing happened then. Good advice, Laura!

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  2. That is ridiculous! I can't believe that they wouldn't help you. Happy New Years and stay safe out there!

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  3. Good for you for trying. It makes me SO mad that in our society, police do not take action in so many instances until AFTER something tragic has occurred. Utterly ridiculous. I have luckily never yet had to report a drunk driver, and I usually stay off the roads on NYE due to fears about drunks. Have a safe and happy New Year, Laura!

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  4. I totally get this post...I actually got T-boned hit by a drunk driver in 2006. He ran a red light...My car was destroyed...and I had to get stitches on my ear...I was stuck in my car..oh it was a nightmare! Ever since that I get anxiety about driving on the weekends after 1am.

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