Top 5 Signs That a Driver Is Impaired or Under the Influence

Published on Sep 9, 2021 at 5:47 pm in Car Accidents.

Person's hand on steering wheel

Although it is well-known that drunk and impaired driving causes thousands of unnecessary deaths and injuries each year, many people still choose to ignore the consequences and get behind the wheel when they are unfit to drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 28 people die every day in the U.S. in crashes involving drunk drivers. And in the state of Maryland alone, the statistics are tragically high. State law makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08%, and there is a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. However, between 2009 and 2018, there were 1,515 people killed in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in Maryland.

At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we fight actively in the battle against car accidents that happen because a driver is under the influence. Knowledge is a powerful tool aiding in the prevention of needless collisions. By being aware of the warning signs of a drunk or otherwise inebriated driver, you can be more vigilant on the road, keeping yourself and others safe from dangerous drivers.

If you observe risky behind-the-wheel behavior, do not try to approach or pass the vehicle. Keep yourself and your passengers safe by staying as far from risk as possible—slowing, turning, or stopping to put distance between you and the other car. Pulling over and notifying law enforcement officers is the best way to protect drivers on the road. Let’s take a look at the top five indicators that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Swerving and Weaving

A drunk or drugged driver may have difficulty controlling their vehicle, or may become lethargic or drowsy behind the wheel. This can become evident in haphazard patterns of driving, such as weaving or zig-zagging across the road, crossing double lines or medians, hugging the middle line, swerving without warning, making wide or last-minute turns, or veering too close to curbs, buildings, trees, or even pedestrians.

Jerky, Sudden Movements

You may notice a car slowing and accelerating abruptly, intermittently, and unexpectedly. The car may brake without cause, slam on the brakes at the last second before a red light or stop sign, or pull away from a stop too quickly. Turns may be taken dangerously closely or even illegally. The physical and mental impairments associated with substance abuse make the mechanical tasks and judgments necessary for safe driving difficult or impossible to handle, resulting in erratic and perilous vehicle operation.

Failure to Follow Traffic Signs and Signals

Alcohol and drug use can lead to a decline in visual functioning, multitasking ability, and rational capability. All of these incapacities can result in failure to properly adhere to traffic laws and regulations. An impaired driver may commit violations such as failing to stop at stop signs or red lights, ignoring yield or merge signs, passing illegally, driving above or below the speed limit, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, making illegal U-turns, or driving in areas not designated for driving.


Following another car too closely can be a sign of driver impairment. This may result from an inability to judge distance, or from a desire to engage with the other driver. Regardless of the reason, a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol who tailgates another car is making a grievously negligent decision. Not only is tailgating dangerous, but Maryland law also stipulates that the driver of a motor vehicle may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent.

Mishandling of Vehicle Equipment

It is common to find that impaired drivers misuse the car mechanisms designed to communicate with other drivers and keep the vehicle operator safe. Drivers with diminished capacities may drive at night without headlights, overuse high beams, use misleadingly or neglect to use turn signals, fail to wear a seatbelt, inappropriately sound the car horn, or even drive with trunks, doors, or windows open or unlatched.

Get the Help You Need from Our Lawyers

Recuperating after a car crash can be overwhelming and frustrating if legal concerns are impeding your ability to focus on recovery. That’s why our team takes an individualized, hands-on approach to every case, making sure you have time to focus on your life while we take care of legal matters.

If you believe your accident may have been caused by another driver’s negligence, our team at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC is ready to help you seek compensation for your losses. We have over 20 years of experience defending the rights of Maryland citizens who have been injured in vehicular crashes resulting from negligent behaviors such as impaired driving. Contact us today to set up an obligation-free appointment to discuss your claim.



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