Florida Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officers receive training on how to recognize drivers who are impaired by alcohol, drugs or medication. However, without such training, how can passengers spot the telltale signs of impairment before risking their lives in vehicles of drunk drivers. Even a trip down the block with a drunk driver could have devastating consequences.
Understanding DUI laws is essential for recognizing red flags before getting into the car of a driver under the influence. Asking oneself the following questions would be a good start.
Is the driver younger than 21? Under Florida law, consuming alcohol is only allowed for those over 21 years old. Another danger sign is an underage driver who has passengers in the car and buys alcohol or asks an older person to buy alcohol.
Are there any open alcohol containers in the vehicle? Regardless of age, drivers and passengers are not allowed to have open containers with alcoholic beverages in the car — stationary or in motion.
Lookout for the visible signs of impairment
The following signs can be giveaways to warn passengers about the driver’s condition and the choice to decline the ride:
- Delayed reactions
- Short-term memory problems
- Impaired hand-eye coordination
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty perceiving distance and time
When considering a ride with a driver who is suspected of being impaired, it is a good idea to remember that even the first drink can impair a driver’s judgment. Furthermore, many types of medicines adversely affect driving abilities and exacerbate the impairment if mixed with alcohol.
Sadly, even the most vigilant passenger could fail to notice a driver’s impairment. Any passenger who suffers injuries in a drunk driving accident caused by the driver will be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit in a Florida civil court. If the claim is successfully presented, the court may award a monetary judgment to cover documented financial and other damages.