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How to Stop a Friend From Driving Impaired

If a friend or someone you know has been drinking while at a party or "out on the town," they shouldn't drive, so please prevent them from doing so. Many people believe that coffee, a cold shower, or fresh air is all that's needed to overcome the effects of alcohol. In truth, time is the only way to get alcohol out of the system. If a friend of yours has been drinking, he or she shouldn't drive. There are steps you can take to keep a friend alive. 1

  • Be proactive. Talk with your friends before they go out. Pick a designated driver, arrange for a sober driver to pick you up, or bring enough money for a cab or public transportation.

  • Politely, but firmly, tell them you cannot let them drive home because you care. The first time you do this will be the toughest, but your actions could save your friend's life or that of an innocent victim. 1

  • Drive your friend home. You're having a party and one of your friends has had too much to drink and should not drive. To be sure your friend arrives home safely, you can drive him or her yourself, if you haven't also been drinking. 2

  • Call a cab. If you can't drive your friend home, you can call a cab. You may want to pay the fare in advance. That's one way to show you really care. 2

  • Have your friend sleep over. Asking a guest to sleep over is another good way to keep a friend from driving. You won't have to drive and your friend won't have to return the next day for the car. 2

  • Take the keys away. Here are some hints on how to get the keys from a drunken person before he or she can drive: 3

    • Be calm. Joke about it. Make light of it.

    • Make it clear that you're doing him a favor by taking their keys.

    • Find the keys while he is distracted and take them away. They'll probably think they've lost them and will be forced to let someone else drive.

    • If it is a close friend, be soft and calm. Speak to him or her privately and suggest that they let someone else drive, or take a cab or a bus.

    • If it is a good friend, spouse, or loved one, refuse to get in the car with them. Tell him or her you will ride with someone else, take public transportation, or walk.

    • If you don't know the person well, speak to their friends and ask them to help get the keys.

    • If possible, do not embarrass the person or be confrontational.

  • Whatever you do, don't give in. 4 About one-third (32%) of persons of driving age have been with a friend who may have had too much to drink to drive safely, including half of those under age 30. Most of these (80%) tried to stop the friend from driving and were successful in preventing the impaired person from driving about 75% of the time. Friends don't let friends drink and then drive. In the morning, you'll have a safer, and maybe an even closer, friend. 5

References:

1. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Prevent a Friend from Driving Drunk. Retrieved on January 20, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www.maddpikespeak.org/prevent.html

2. Minnesota Safety Council. December is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month: What can you do. Retrieved on January 20, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www.mnsafetycouncil.org/nets/Winter01.pdf

3. How Do You Stop Someone From Driving Drunk. Retrieved on January 20, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nchpdp.med.va.gov/NationalHealthObservances/2003December/ HowDoYouStopSomeoneFromDrivingDrunk.doc

4. Public Broadcasting System. Just One Night. Retrieved on January 20, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www.pbs.org/justone/justo3.htm

5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, 2001. Retrieved on January 20, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/alcohol/traffic-tech2003/TT280.pdf