We all know that drinking and driving is bad news. But what do you do when someone you care about is about to get in the car and you know they are not in a fit state to drive? Telling someone not to drive can be a tricky thing. People get sensitive about their judgement and may even get aggressive. You know that you are doing the right thing by preventing them from getting in the car, but how to do that when they are unwilling to listen to you?
1) Be nonjudgmental and non-confrontational. This is not the moment to give them a lecture or appeal to their morality. Keep it simple and friendly.
2) Suggest alternatives (taxi, sleeping over, a ride home).
3) Get their keys (this is important, as many drivers will go back to the car even after agreeing to an alternative plan).
4) Get help. This is one case where peer pressure can be a good thing. It’s harder to ignore several people, and in the unfortunate situation where you might have to physically take their keys away from them, you will have backup.
5) Distract them. Get them to stay in their home or in a taxi cab through conversation about something else.
6) Get them water. (Increased sobriety may help you reason with them.)
7) Have information on possible free services to get your friends home (around the holidays there are usually several volunteer organizations and initiatives that will make getting home cheaper or free).
8) Don’t give up. Even if your friend is mad at you in the moment, it is better than them risking their life (and the life of others).
9) Talk about it when sober. Many drunk drivers are repeat offenders, and this is a dangerous habit to get into. Open up the conversation before they get drunk. Let them know that you are concerned for them and want to talk about what occurred.