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How Can You Tell If a Driver Is Drunk?

May 20, 2024
DUI Accidents

Drunk driving in Colorado killed more than 200 people in 2023. Here's how to avoid a drunk driver.

A drunk driver is a road hazard. Too many drunk drivers injure other people, and we at the O’Sullivan Law Firm have seen the devastating results of drunk driving in our personal injury work. All drivers can protect themselves by knowing how to spot and avoid alcohol impaired drivers.

Colorado Drunk Driving Fatality Statistics: 2023

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, in 2023 Colorado had a total of 716 auto accident fatalities; 218 of those accidents involved at least one driver with a BAC of at least 0.08%. That means that around 30% of all traffic fatalities in Colorado are due to alcohol impairment

Individuals involved in accidents who do survive may sustain a serious injury. Motorists should know how to identify and avoid a dangerous driver by recognizing the signs of impairment. What should you be aware of in order to avoid drunk drivers?

What Kind of Impairments Do Drunk Drivers Actually Have?

An NHTSA study divided the indicators of a drunk driver into four categories:

  1. Problems in maintaining proper lane position
  2. Speed and braking problems
  3. Vigilance problems
  4. Judgment problems

Drunk Drivers Swerve

A driver swerving in and out of their lane is a common sight. In some cases, the swerving may be due to a dropped phone or spilled cup of coffee, and hopefully no harm comes of it. But a driver who consistently drifts out of their lane, or swerves from one lane to the next is likely drunk, and should be avoided and reported. Impaired drivers may start to drift out of their lane position and then quickly try to swerve back into position.

Drunk Drivers Might Slam Their Brakes or Drive at Inappropriate Speeds

Another tell-tale sign of impairment is sudden braking. The driver may seem to be over-compensating for slow reaction time, sometimes coming to a near complete stop on a high speed road. Drunk drivers may also drive far too slowly for the posted speed limit, normal flow of traffic, and weather conditions. And some drive far too fast, lost in a fog of alcohol impairment.

Drunk Drivers Aren’t Vigilant

A driver with vigilance problems due to alcohol impairment may forget to turn on their headlights at night. They may leave their turn signals on or may turn without using their turn signals at all. They may go the wrong way on one-way streets or freeways, and may not leave enough space or time for maneuvering their car at a left turn or across traffic.

Drunk Drivers Lack Judgement

Impaired drivers often show judgment problems. They cannot properly negotiate lane changes. They cannot judge the proper speed for making a turn, often going too fast to make it around a corner successfully. Their impairment may cause them to tailgate the cars ahead of them. If the car in front stops, the drunk driver cannot stop in time to avoid a car accident.

Getting Help If You’re Injured by a Drunk Driver in Colorado

Lawyers who handle car accident cases know a collision involving a drunk driver has the potential to cause a very bad injury. Attorney involvement can bring about a quicker resolution of a case. But the best option is to avoid the problem entirely.


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