Often times, for a variety of reasons, we can be suckered into doing something we know is a bad idea simply because we don’t want to make waves with people. So what then? Say you’re in a situation where the driver of the car you’re in seems to be drunk, what’s your next move?
1. Assess the Driving Conditions. If the driver has only had one or two drinks in the course of a few hours they should be legally sober. They may be sober enough to drive down a wide, well lit, straight, and lightly trafficked road road. But the slight loss in reaction time might mean that driving down a 50 miles per hour, busy, two lane, unlit mountain road at 11 at night might mean that staying in the car is a really bad idea. Light traffic is safer than no traffic, as the brake lights of the car in front will give the driver something easy to follow.
2. Offer to Drive. If the driver seems slightly drunk but is not belligerent, you might simply offer to drive. You might think of telling them “I know you’re sober enough to drive, but I saw a lot of cop cars out earlier today and if we get pulled with me driving you won’t get a DUI.” If there is a third person in the car you might recommend that the third person take the wheel, this way it will be less personal, and you might be able to leverage enough peer pressure to get the tipsy person out from behind the wheel.
3. Find a Way out of the Car. If the person is really drunk and belligerent you’d be better off playing Russian Roulette than you would be staying in that car. If they are dangerously drunk you need to get out of there. Its tempting to demand that you be let out of the car, but creating a confrontation might make things worse. You should tell the person you’re feeling sick, think you might throw up and ask them to pull over (telling them you have to use the bathroom works too, but they probably won’t pull over as fast). Get out of the car and act like you’re trying to keep yourself from throwing up. Now that you’re out of the car you are in a much better bargaining position. If it’s safe, you can offer to drive, but you’re probably best off telling them that the fresh air feels good and you want to walk home. This might make them mad, but you’re out of the car and 90% in the clear. Once they drive off you can call to get a ride from someone else, or, if you’re in the middle of nowhere, dial 411 and see if you can get a ride from the local police.
4. Did I Mention Not Getting in the Car in the First Place? Don’t ever walk into a situation you don’t have at least two ways to walk out of. Know beforehand some people you can call to get a ride from, and if you’re at a party at an unfamiliar house, get the address from someone so you can tell it to whoever is coming to pick you up. When the drunk driver tries to get you in the car, let them know you’re not done partying for the night and you met someone who is offering you a ride.