How You Can Prevent Friends from Driving Drunk

Drunk driving contributes to approximately 1/3rd of all traffic accident fatalities in the United States every year. Those statistics have plateaued after steep declines over the past decade, and in the past couple of years, the number of drunk driving accidents has remained fairly consistent.

How Can You Prevent Friends From Driving Drunk?

There are far too many accidents involving drunk drivers who could have been restrained by persons around them. Many drunk driving accidents involve a person who left a party, or a commercial drinking establishment. If you see one of your friends, who is in an intoxicated state, getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, take steps to prevent him from driving. Make arrangements for a friend to drive him home, or drive him home yourself. Make sure that you always come to your friend with alternative solutions to get home so he does not feel like he will be stranded if he doesn’t get behind the wheel. Remember, being intoxicated clouds your judgment, so your friend may not be thinking things through.

If he gets belligerent, talk to him calmly and firmly, and make it clear to him that it is a bad idea for him to drive home in this condition. Show compassion towards him and emphasize that you would never want him to drive drunk because you fear that he might hurt himself or others. By showing that you care, he is more likely to listen to you and take your advice. Also remember that a person may not show all outward signs of intoxication. A person may seem outwardly sober, but may seem flushed, overly effusive or show other signs of drunkenness.

Try to start talking to your friend early about how he will get home. If you are at a party and notice that your friend is consuming large amounts of alcohol, start the conversation early and try to get a hold on his keys so that you’re in control. The longer that you wait to have the conversation, the more intoxicated he may become, leading to aggressive or agitated behavior. If someone at the party has a closer relationship with your friend than you do, ask this friend to do the talking. Your friend is more likely to listen to someone that he has a very close relationship with, especially when it comes to safety.

Under Colorado’s social host liability laws, social hosts who are hosting an event may be held liable for brain injuries or damage caused in an accident involving a minor below the age of 21 who consumes alcohol at his party. The legal age for consumption of alcohol in Colorado is 21, and any person below 21 who consumes alcohol is in violation of the law. Not only that, but a person who serves alcohol or provides alcohol to a person below the age of 21, is also in violation of the law.

Therefore, if you knowingly allow a person below the age of 21 to have drinks at your party, and then this person goes out and causes an accident, the victims of the accident can name you in a claim to recover damages.

However, those same social host liability laws will not apply in the case of a person who is above the age of 21. In other words, if an adult guest, who is legally permitted to drink, consumes too much alcohol at a party and then goes out and causes an accident, the extent of host liability may not be the same. However, even if the same social host liability law does not apply, hosts should always be aware of their guests’ alcohol consumption and look out for their safety. Don’t host a party that involves alcohol if you don’t have alternate forms of transportation to bring guests home, or a place for intoxicated guests to sleep for the night.

How Can You Tell A Friend is Drunk?

The first step to stopping a friend or loved one from driving drunk is to learn how to spot when he or she is intoxicated. Although there are obvious signs such as slurred speech, the inability to balance on two feet and a delayed reaction time, intoxication is not always so blatant. Just because a friend doesn’t exhibit these behaviors does not mean that he or she is fit to drive home. How can you look for subtle signs that your friend is too intoxicated to take the wheel?

Take your friend aside and have a short conversation with him or her in another room. Pay attention to how your friend speaks. Is he or she talking slower or faster than usual? Is your friend’s speech volume louder or softer than usual? Any change in speech pattern could signal that your friend is intoxicated and should not drive.

After the conversation is over, get up and walk a few steps with your friend. Then, ask him or her what the conversation you just had was about. People who are drunk will not be able to recall details of the conversation, even if it just happened a few seconds ago.

Rely on the basics. When police officers stop drivers that they suspect are intoxicated, they may ask them to perform a field sobriety test that includes walking in a straight line, touching their finger to their nose or reciting the alphabet. If you can’t think of any other way to determine whether your friend is drunk, do as the pros do. Ask your friend to complete these field sobriety tests in front of you before you allow him or her to take the wheel.

Drunk driving accidents cause tremendous damage every year. These accidents are typically high-speed accidents that result in a heavy impact, and multiple injuries and fatalities. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, call a Denver car accident lawyer for help filing a claim for compensation. Compensation could include medical expenses and lost wages. Discuss how you can begin filing a claim with a Denver car accident lawyer.

 

By: Dallas Norton

Dallas Norton, the founding partner of Norton & Bowers, has practiced law with a focus on personal injury since 1992. Mr. Norton has extensive Colorado roots including grade school in Arvada and high school in Denver. He earned his J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School in 1991. When working on behalf of clients, Mr. Norton draws upon his extensive background in psychology and human resources.