How to Stop a Friend from Driving Drunk

Drunk Driving Blurry
Andras Müller,

MADD fact: In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Of those, 54% were riding with the drunk driver.

Drunk driving kills thousands of people every year in the United States. According to the Bureau of Transportation, three people die in alcohol-related accidents every two hours. With statistics like these, it’s incumbent upon every single one of us to do what we can to prevent drunk driving from ever taking place. This includes keeping your friends from driving when you know they’ve had one too many. Naturally, this is often easier said than done – but it is possible! Here are some tips on how to handle the situation if it ever arises.

Drive them home yourself. Note: this only works if you haven’t had anything to drink yourself. Playing the part of the responsible adult and assuming the role of DD (designated driver) isn’t always as fun as tying one on with a group of friends – but if you’re steadfast and determined to keep those you care about from harm, consider refraining from drinking so that everyone gets home safe and sound, and lives to party another night.

Offer them a place to crash. Having a group of friends over to your house entails certain responsibilities that include making sure nobody leaves who can’t make it home safely. As a rule, always be prepared to allow a few overnight guests. It may not make for the most comfortable situation if your place is tiny, but having a few couch-and-floor surfers is much more preferable to the alternative scenario of having to live with guilt.

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Call them a cab. Better yet, offer to pay for the ride yourself. Sometimes, the decision to drive when intoxicated can be the result of someone being too frugal for his or her own good. If your friend is three sheets to the wind and is unwilling or unable to spend the night on your couch or spare bed, offer to “treat” them to their own personal yellow checkered limousine ride home. If you dress it up like that, they may just get excited over the idea and not put up a fight!  Alternatively, call on a friend, parent or spouse who’s not present at the party. Chances are they won’t mind you calling in a late-night favor once they see the state of your inebriated friend.

Take their keys. Snatching someone’s car keys – drunk or sober – can be seen as a “fighting move.” Especially if you’re dealing with someone who’s had so much to drink that they’re bordering on belligerent. But removing the very tool that will enable them to climb behind the wheel of their car is absolutely critical to keeping your friend (and other people) safe. In this case the best course of action is to distract them with something else while you hide their car keys someplace where they won’t be found until much later. Thinking ahead is also a smart move: if you’re inviting friends over to your house and there’s going to be booze involved, try instituting a rule that requires all party guests to turn over their keys at the beginning of the evening so you won’t have to play pickpocket-pro later on.

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Be assertive and call in help. Drunk people are often unreasonable. This is more often than not the case of the “alcohol” doing the talking instead of your friend. If you encounter resistance or hostility when trying to prevent someone from driving drunk, be assertive. Don’t just give in to their wishes. If necessary, rally some of your friends to step in to help you calm the situation down. It’s not always easy to talk sense into someone who’s inebriated, but there’s power in numbers.

There have been numerous reported cases of people being held criminally liable for damage, injury or death if they’ve knowingly let their friends drive drunk. Keeping your friends from hitting the road in any other condition than sober could therefore not only save them and others from a potentially tragic situation, but you as well.