Dear Christine, Nervous in Northville

Dear Christine,

Not sure what to do here. I have a good friend who has been driving drunk. She has come to my house barely able to walk yet she drove and has also shown up places where I knew she was too drunk to drive. After she shows up, we make sure she gets a ride or is sober before we let her go but how can we stop her when we are not there? I have told her the next time I catch her driving drunk, I am going to call the police and turn her in.

I’m afraid she’s going to kill someone. I have no idea how many other times she’s driving drunk either. My knowledge of this makes me feel like I need to do something. What? Thanks! Nervous in Northville

Dear Nervous,

I checked two resources to answer this question: The Berkley Police Department, Deputy Chief Bob Narth and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) contact, Elvira Anderson.

The police give the short answer that if you know or suspect someone is driving drunk, call the town police office where the person is driving and ask for the shift officer and give a description of the vehicle and the location. They will go find this driver, assuming officers are available to do so. Police prefer you make an in-person visit to their offices, should you want issue a general warning about this driver. Everyone is at risk when a drunk driver continues to drive.

The MADD answer is as follows:

If you know your friend is drunk and you are present, you must either provide a sober ride, taxi, etc., or make the person stay the night. You cannot sober a person up with coffee or any thing else. The only thing that sobers a person is time. If the person is “super drunk” it can take 8-12+ hours for the blood alcohol content (BAC) to be within the legal range. So unless you have a breathalyzer available with which to test your friend’s BAC, you cannot judge whether they’re legally capable of driving.

(side note: Madd presents a video at their panels of a young man who only had one beer and yet caused 1-2 deaths while driving. You cannot go by how many drinks. You must go by BAC.)

Next: yes, calling the local law enforcement agency with the person’s name, make, model and license of the car being driven and where they’re located would allow law enforcement to catch them in the act…which is extremely costly to the drunk driver and can lead to MAJOR inconveniences over a long period of time.

However, there is a major cost to the public at large should this friend keep drinking and driving. Please express your concern to this woman about her drinking. Suggest going with her to AA, and even if you don’t have a drinking problem, go for support.

Refer your friend to counseling and MADD would let her attend a panel to learn of the impact of drinking and driving on its victims. The schedule is listed on their web site. She can also call the MADD Michigan State Office to get this information first hand from them (248) 528-1745

So don’t sit there and do nothing! At least express your concerns to your friend, and then be proactive to make the roads safer for all of us. Christine

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888Click here to email Christine.

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