Did you know, YOU can report drunk drivers?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

We all know that impaired driving is 100% preventable. But did you know that each and every one of us can play a significant role in eliminating impaired driving? We can….by taking it upon ourselves to call 911 anytime we suspect an impaired driver is on the road. I knew that conceptually but didn’t really get it…until I read this article by Jim Kenzie. He interviewed Arn Kashino on how to report a drunk driver and Arn’s words blew me away!

“But I witnessed a woman bleed to death when hit by a drunk driver, and I’d rather make the 911 call and be wrong than give another drunk driver a chance to kill someone else.”
Arn Kashino


There have been times when hubby and I have suspected an impaired driver in front of us but have hesitated reporting it because A) we weren’t 100% sure and B) we didn’t want this person to be stopped unnecessarily. No one wants to purposely cause someone to be detained for no reason nor do we want to waste police officers’ valuable time.

MADD Canada Campaign 911

MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 is a year-round, Canada-wide campaign that encourages and empowers the Canadian public to report suspected impaired driving by calling 911. According to MADD Canada, effective 911 programs have been found to increase arrest rates for impaired drivers by an average of 30%.

I’ve known about MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 for while now but until I read Jim’s article, I didn’t realize how vigilant I could be; what a strong role I could personally play in reducing impaired driving. I don’t have to be 100% sure. The person doesn’t have to be swerving right off the road. If I even SUSPECT someone is impaired, I’m encouraged to call and report it.

Arn’s point is so true! When it comes to impaired driving, it is better to be safe than sorry because lives are at stake.

Here are MADD Canada’s 10 possible signs of an impaired driver:

  1. Driving unreasonably fast, slow or at an inconsistent speed
  2. Drifting in and out of lanes
  3. Tailgating and changing lanes frequently
  4. Making exceptionally wide turns
  5. Changing lanes or passing without sufficient clearance
  6. Overshooting or stopping well before stop signs or stop lights
  7. Disregarding signals and lights
  8. Approaching signals or leaving intersections too quickly or slowly
  9. Driving without headlights, failing to lower high beams or leaving turn signals on
  10. Driving with windows open in cold or inclement weather

When calling 911, either pull over or do so hands-free. Your driving may be compromised because you are concentrating on what someone else is doing and you are in a stressful situation so take special care to not tailgate, run red-light, or speed. It’s not your job to follow the person or to apprehend them. Make the call and then let the police do their job.

In the article Arn talked about what to expect when calling 911 and what you may be asked or may want to take note to share:

  • Your name and contact information (in case the connection is dropped or should you need to act as a witness if there is a court case)
  • Make, model and color of the car
  • Description of the car
  • Licence plate (if you can read it)
  • Description of the driver (if you got close enough)
  • How many people were in the car
  • What road you were on
  • What direction you were travelling
  • The nearest intersection
  • Road condition
  • What the driver was doing: weaving, bouncing off the curb, speeding up/slow down

I love Arn’s final line in the article

“Be a witness,” he says. “Not a statistic!” Arn Kashino

DAMN straight Arn – I hear you and will take your message to heart. Drunk drivers, you’ve been warned. I am on the look out and I will report anyone I suspect!

Have you ever called 911 and reported a suspected drunk driver? Would you now?

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), and on the Web.

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  1. Last weekend, in Calgary, a 25 yo woman got behind the wheel with her friend in the car. She had an accident and killed both her passenger and the driver and lone occupant of the other car. She has been charged with impaired driving causing death and other charges. two young people are dead because she made a bad decision after drinking. Why didn’t somebody take her keys? where were her friends?

    and yes, I have called 911 on a drunk driver. I have zero tolerance.

    • I heard that on the news Louise – sooooo sad!! I asked many of the same questions – where were her friends? How come somebody didn’t step in? Senseless, tragic, preventable loss. Such a shame.
      I will absolutely call much more often when I suspect it!! Here here to zero tolerance!

  2. Great post, Natalie. I tried to report someone to 911 and sadly got the runaround. I drove behind, watching them swerve, and got attitude from the 911 person because we were crossing city lines and she didn’t know which police station to call. I was livid.

  3. Right on! We all have a responsibility to keep our eyes open and make that 911 call. I can imagine how furious Barb must have been when the operator gave her a hard time. As Louise says, zero tolerance is the only way to go so accidents like the recent one in Calgary don’t happen. Makes you wonder …

    • Zero tolerance is definitely the way to go. And I love that we each have the power to create change.
      I can’t imagine how frustrated and fuming I’d have been. I hope I never encounter someone giving me a hard time when I call. Wowzers!
      I know…so sad and it does make you wonder….

  4. I have called 911 about impaired drivers. One very dramatic incident happened with all our kids in the car, coming back from vacation. We were on Rte. 66, and this woman was in front of us, meandering across all the lanes, nearly hitting the guard rail and other cars on several occasions. We kept our distance from her, and gave as many details about her and the location as we could to the 911 operator. I’m sure there were a lot of calls about her. Hope they took her license away. My kids got to see both a bad driver and someone willing to get involved to stop the craziness.

    Thanks for this post, Natalie – it’s important information!

    • That is wonderful Kathy and what a GREAT example/lesson for your kids. I love it!!! Thank you….you probably saved lives that day….we all need to step up and do the same thing when duty calls!!!

  5. Excellent post, Natalie! Your list of “what to look for” is worth reviewing, printing and keeping in the car. I’d probably miss the make and model of the car, seeing as I’m car-clueless. I’m going to start paying more attention to the details…and will think of this post in times of “should I or shouldn’t I?” doubt. YOU ROCK!

    • Awwww…THANK you August!!! I agree, I am car clueless as well but I think a good description can go a long way. Like dark blue, 4-door, maybe bumper sticker, window stickers etc. Anything to help cops identify the car will be a huge help!!
      Woot woot…YOU guys all ROCK because you’ll read this and take it to heart. I couldn’t dare DREAM for more than that!!

  6. Great info Natalie! (I don’t think I’ve said it before, but I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so glad you’re turning it into something positive.)

    Yes, I have.

    But I’m probably an exception because the majority of my working life I’ve been a mandatory reporter. In other words, I had to report suspected cases of abuse (elder, child, etc.), endangerment, or neglect, and have had to work closely with DHS.

    I also call on people illegally parked in handicap spots (I have non-emergency numbers for this) or people driving with young children not properly buckled. I’ve also called DMV to report an unsafe driver (usually an elderly person) and DMV will call them in for testing, most states have something like this and I would guess Canada does too.

    It drives That Man crazy that I have DMV and non-emergency police numbers on my cell for the four states we travel in the most. But I’ve seen first hand the devastation. My best friend and Godmother (not to mention 60% of the vets I personally know) need those handicap parking spots. I have zero tolerance for stupidity, or maybe it’s arrogance.

    Jumping off my soap box now 🙂

    • Raelyn, anytime you want to jump on a soap box and say your piece, you come ON over girl!!! You are always welcome…I love it!! 🙂
      BTW, thank you for your uber kind words and your support and encouragement. I really appreciate it!!
      I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you do this Raelyn. AWESOME! I have to agree, I have no tolerance for people who show such a lack of respect by parking in handicap parking spot when they don’t need to. I think it’s stupidity, arrogance, and a total lack of respect for others…
      Keep up the GREAT work – our roads are safer because of people like you!

  7. Great post Natalie. We as concerned citizens have to be willing to get involved to make a difference. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere, and if we are extra eyes for them, more people will be protected and it may make people think before they do selfish things that risk others’ lives .

    Also, thanks for the shout-out! Glad your enjoying the blogging habits series.

  8. Such an important post, Natalie! Absolutely call the police if you suspect a drunk driver. Even if they aren’t drunk, if they are driving in a way that could cause an accident (swerving, inconsistent speed, etc), then they might be texting, on drugs, or any number of other offenses. I’m like Louise, I have no tolerance. I like August’s idea of printing out the list and keeping it in the car. I knew some of those, but not all of them. Thanks, Natalie!!

  9. Hi Natalie, I happen to be in Canada right now. Thanks for this informative post. I’ve never reported a driver but there was one time when I really wanted to but didn’t do it because of the same reasons you talked about. I’ll never know what happened to that driver or if he caused an accident. Thanks to your post, I will call from now on. Indiana has been big on stopping drunk driving — at least in the Fort Wayne area so I think the police would be willing to check it out. Thanks!

  10. Great information Natalie. I have called in drivers I suspected of being under the influence and have never regretted it. They endanger too many people – even if they are “only” driving carelessly or distracted, and are not drunk or high.

    Not going to feel guilty for that.

  11. Arn Kashino says:

    Hi Natalie,

    A friend sent me the link to your blog. I’m glad the article helped clear up the “hesitation” you had in calling 911. That was the intent of the article and Jim and I chatted about this quite a bit.

    You’re right, you don’t have to be 100% sure. If you saw your nieghbors lights on inside the house, when you knew they were away, you’d probably call 911. You’re not sure if someone has broken in but just in case, you’d probably call the police. Same thing here.

    I know many police officers and I know every single one of them will have no hesitation responding to a possible impaired driver call. THEY don’t think it’s a waste of time.

    Best regards,


    • Thank you so much for the fantastic comment Arn! I am totally pumped that you stopped by and shared your support. Really appreciate it. And yes, the analogy of the neighbor is very effective. You are absolutely right, I wouldn’t hesitate in that situation and I certainly will never hesitate again in making a 911 call for a suspected impaired driver. I loved your article with Jim – thanks so much for doing it.
      Take care!!

  12. The list of signs of drunk drivers on the road are shockingly broad. Just because someone forgets to turn their high-beams down does not mean they are drunk. To suggest that it is just fine to warrant tying up emergency services and 911 on an untrained citizens hunch is reckless and irresponsible. The chance for abuse and false reporting is too high. 911 is for emergencies, not hunches

    Shame on you MADD. I used to be a supporter but now I think you have just plain gone mad.

    • Hi Joanne, thanks so much for your comment. I definitely appreciate your point. I think a person has to use common sense when making a judgement call. It isn’t just if someone forgets to lower their high beams but is perhaps displaying 2 or 3 or 4 of the warning signs all together. In the end, I believe the point of the article and the 911 Campaign is that if you sincerely and honestly suspect someone driving impaired, you can and should call 911. After losing someone to impaired driving, if I can ever even remotely save someone from going through what we did, I will do it.


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