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How to Stop Your Friends From Driving Under the Influence

Aug 29, 2019

Drinking and driving is dangerous. In 2018, 71 people in Manitoba died in a car crash; almost half of those were caused by impaired drivers. The statistics play out Canada-wide, too; in fact, more than half of road crash fatalities were caused by impaired drivers in 2014. This is a point that’s been hammered home for so many of us so often that it seems impossible to even think of drinking and driving. There are those who do, however, and you might be friends with some of them.

There’s so many reasons to try to stop your friends from drinking and driving. Certainly, their safety is on the line - the safety of others is too. When you’re at a party, and a friend has been drinking, how do you stop them from getting into their vehicle? There’s a few different strategies that you can employ. Broadly speaking, these strategies fall into three categories: preventive, persuasive and physical.


Preventive strategies are all the strategies you can employ before someone starts drinking; they create an environment in which would-be drunk drivers become reluctant to do so. The best preventive strategy is expressing your concern about drunk driving before the party gets started. When you are hosting the event, make sure to let people know drunk driving won’t be tolerated; a simple sentence like “We want everyone getting home safe, so make sure you have a DD, bus, taxi or other transportation to get you home - if you’re drinking, don’t drive” in your Facebook event’s “About” page can help. You can even reiterate in the comments before people show up to the event; innocuously asking your guests how they’re getting home when they get to the party and when they’re about to leave can go a long way, too.

Whether you’re hosting, or you want to coordinate with the host, finding alternative transportation for those who have neglected to do so can be incredibly helpful. Bring enough money that you can help someone pay for a taxi back home - a little extra so they can come back the next day to pick up their car can help them act more cooperatively when they’re inebriated. You can also make a “Get Home Safe” cash pool that guests contribute to in case someone needs taxi or bus fare. For house parties, see if those who aren’t sober and don’t have rides can stay the night; for nights on the town, see if anyone within walking distance of the bar, club or restaurant can have people stay overnight if they can’t make it home. Create a list of designated drivers and their routes; see if they can accommodate an extra person or two who live near the route they take.

Encourage an ambiance of zero tolerance for drunk driving among your friends. Never get in the car with a drunk driver.


Persuasive strategies are those steps that you take to convince an inebriated friend that they shouldn’t drive. Persuasion when someone is drunk is peculiar. Their inhibitions are usually low, their emotions might run high, and they might not be persuaded by arguments that would normally convince them.

The most obvious tactic to try is explaining the potential risk of bodily harm or death to themselves and to others. People, even (or especially) drunk people, tend to be empathetic; they worry about hurting others. Talking to them about how they would feel if they hurt someone else can really put things in perspective. You can also have a real heart-to-heart with them; tell them how you would feel if something were to happen to them, how their family would feel. Tell them that you have to try to stop them from drinking and driving because if something happened to them and you didn’t try to stop them, you would never be able to forgive yourself. Tell them that if they are going to ignore everything telling them not to and drive drunk anyway they should make sure they have registered to be organ donors.

During these emotional conversations, you might get some clapback from the person who wants to drink and drive - they might accuse you of being a worry-wart, or overly parental. You can laugh it off and make jokes; you’re their friend, so banter and light-heartedness can go a long way, even if you’re talking about something serious. Try not to be condescending, and use your empathy to feel out the situation - you don’t want to end up in a spot where your friend drives drunk because they feel too proud not to.

You can also get multiple parties involved in trying to convince someone not to drive drunk; their significant other, their relatives, anyone who you think could persuade them to take a different action.

Your friend might not be persuaded by these arguments, under the belief that they drive perfectly well while inebriated. When that’s the case, you can take a more pragmatic view. Use the resources on the website of this criminal DUI lawyer to show your friend the potential criminal consequences of driving inebriated, including how the new impaired driving laws allow police to use breathalyzer tests without evidence of impaired driving. Remind them that they could easily get a criminal conviction, that CheckStops can be put up anywhere, and that there could be serious monetary and legal consequences to their actions.


When all else fails, you may need physical barriers between the impaired driver and their vehicle. The best way of doing this is to take their keys; they might be mad, but at least they won’t drive drunk. While you never want to get into a situation where you might be hurt, putting yourself in the way of them and their vehicle can also help; blocking or locking entrances is an option, though it’s a last resort.

When all else fails, call the police. Doing so will act as a huge deterrent, limiting their activity; moreover, if they do somehow decide that they’re going to drive drunk anyway, the police will stop them in short order. While this might impact your friendship, at least it won’t endanger the life of your friend - or anyone else.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.