What Are the Driving Behaviors of a Drunk Driver?

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You’re likely aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but this knowledge won’t prevent all other drivers from doing it. For reference, 3,800 Illinois drivers died between 2003 and 2012 as a result of someone driving drunk. This statistic cannot be overlooked and it only increases when you include all of the other states in the country.

Even if you don’t drive while intoxicated, other drivers will and this places you in danger. To protect yourself, you need to understand what a drunk driver looks like. When you understand the behaviors of an intoxicated driver, you’ll know what to look out for and what you need to steer clear of. To make this easy for you, we’ll explain a few clear signs of drinking and driving below.


One of the most obvious indicators of an intoxicated driver is swerving. If you’ve ever seen someone constantly swaying from left to right and failing to drive in a straight line, then you know what swerving is. Should the driver be lucky, they’ll manage to stay within their lane.

However, it’s more likely that a drunk driver cannot stay within their lane. They’ll inadvertently veer into lanes next to them and this is dangerous if other cars are there.

This is especially hazardous should they be traveling on a two-way road with just two lanes. If they veer into the oncoming lane, then they’ll cause a head-on collision.

To identify swerving, simply look at the wheels of a car. If they’re frequently shifting from left to right within their lane, then there’s a good chance that they might be intoxicated.

Inconsistent Speed

Drunk drivers also tend to drive at inconsistent speeds. A sober driver is capable of maintaining a constant speed. By comparison, a drunk driver will struggle with this and will fluctuate above and below the speed limit.

For example, a drunk driver on a 30 MPH road may be driving anywhere from 20-40 MPH. The speed they go at can change at any moment, meaning that they’re unpredictable. Any unpredictable driver presents a major safety concern for anyone nearby. Predictability is crucial when driving because it gives drivers time to plan and react to situations.

If you see someone who just can’t seem to stay at the same speed, then you might be dealing with a drunk driver.

Delayed Reactions

Another clear indicator is delayed reactions. This can be present in various scenarios. One of the most obvious is when you’re waiting at a red light. If you’re sober, then you’ll quickly register that the light is green and you’ll begin accelerating. An intoxicated driver may not realize that the light has changed and will only start driving when they notice cars going past them.

This can also cause them to not brake quickly enough to avoid an accident. If someone merges in front of them or turns into the road, these can both cause the other driver to get hit.

Reaction time is essential to being a safe driver. The longer it takes someone to react to something, the less of a chance they have to effectively deal with it. If you notice a driver who seems to be particularly slow with their reactions, alcohol might be a factor in their behavior.

Unusual Braking

One final sign of a drunk driver is unusual braking. Operating a car while intoxicated can be quite confusing. It’s easy to make a mistake and this can cause a driver to drive incorrectly.

For example, a drunk driver might accidentally step on their brake because they fear that they’re going too fast. Alternatively, they might brake when they mean to accelerate.

There’s also a possibility that they inadvertently brake without realizing that it’s happening. Alcohol can make it difficult to move properly and this can cause someone to sway or move in a way that swaps a foot over to the brake pedal.

Random braking is dangerous because a driver behind them might not stop in time to avoid an accident. They certainly won’t be expecting a driver to suddenly stop and this makes it hard to avoid hitting them. Should you see a driver frequently pumping their brakes for no clear reason, then intoxication is likely involved.

Closing Thoughts

Intoxicated driving is a serious offense that makes the road perilous for any other driver. Your best bet for avoiding an accident with a drunk driver is understanding how to identify them. There are a few clear signs of this and you should always be watching for them.

This includes swerving, fluctuating speeds, delayed reactions, and unusual braking. Drunk drivers have a harder time operating their car and this leads to them exhibiting unusual and dangerous driving choices.

If you notice anyone exhibiting one or more of these behaviors, then steer clear of them! Don’t drive in lanes directly next to them and try to drive past them so that their poor decision doesn’t impact you.

Just A Guy Thing is a men's lifestyle magazine focused primarily at guys wanting to better themselves.

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