How to Report a Drunk Driver in California

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driving drunk Drunk drivers are dangerous drivers. Each year in California, impaired driving is a leading cause of traffic fatalities. If you see a drunk driver while you are operating your own vehicle, there are steps that you can take to report the driver to law enforcement officials so that they can take the steps necessary to ensure roadway safety. By reporting drunk drivers, you can help lower the risk of a potentially fatal car or truck accident. 

California Impaired Driving Stats

Information available from the California Office of Traffic Safety indicates that there were 949 total fatalities caused by drunk driving during the latest reporting year across the state. Additionally, more than 27,000 individuals suffered from alcohol-related traffic injuries during that same period. Year after year, drunk driving remains one of the leading causes of traffic injuries and fatalities across the state.

Do Not Attempt to Stop the Driver

There may be various signs that a driver around you is operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs. We do want to point out that it is imperative that you not try to stop the driver on your own. Do not try to get their attention or try to cut them off. Even if you think you are doing the right thing, this will only create more of a hazard and put other people in harm’s way.

Some of the main signs that a driver is drunk behind the wheel include:

  • Weaving, drifting, or swerving through traffic
  • Tailgating
  • Illegal or abrupt turns
  • Driving with no headlights at night
  • Erratic stopping or breaking
  • Driving slowly for no reason
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Striking objects on the side of the road
  • Rapid acceleration
  • Riding down the center lane
  • Making wide turns
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road

Information is Important

The California Highway Patrol strongly encourages you to report any suspicions of drunk driving to them as soon as possible. They say that as soon as you notice a possible drunk driver, you should pull to the side of the road to a safe location and call 911. If you have a passenger in your vehicle, you can ask them to call 911 while you continue driving, but do not get too close to the suspected drunk driver.

It is important for you to relay the following information to the dispatcher when you call 911:

  • The location of the allegedly impaired driver 
  • The approximate direction the driver is going
  • The make, model, and color of the vehicle
  • The license plate number and state if you can see that 
  • A description of the driving behavior

What Phone Number do You Call to Report a Drunk Driver in California?

You need to call 911 if you see a suspected drunk driver on the roadway in California. This will put you through to the police dispatcher, and the dispatcher can route you to California Highway Patrol dispatch if necessary. 

Because a drunk driver poses a risk of causing a fatal car accident on the roadway they are an emergency, please do not take the time to find the local police non-emergency number. Everyone knows that 911 gets them through to the police dispatcher, and this is an appropriate time to dial 911.