What to do when you get into an accident with a drunk driver

What to do when you get into an accident with a drunk driver

Getting into an accident is bad enough, but getting into an accident with a drunk is the absolute worst. You’re lucky if you can get a coherent statement, let alone contact and insurance details. Just keep your calm, and remember the following steps:

1. Quickly take note of who was driving

In Singapore, drunk driving carries a penalty of between $1,000 to $5,000, a jail term of up to six months, and a license suspension of between 12 to 48 months (and that’s just for the first offence).

Due to the steep penalties, drunk drivers may try to pull a “switch”. That is, they may try to claim that one of their other passengers was the driver. This would allow them to argue that alcohol wasn’t a factor in the accident.

So pay close attention to who the driver is: if possible, snap a picture of this person behind the wheel (or getting out from the driver’s side seat). If the other driver was drunk, it will be a powerful case for negligence on their side rather than yours.

2. Don’t get angry or provoke the drunk driver

Alcohol causes drinkers to lose their inhibitions. A drunk driver doesn’t have much self-control and may turn violent if you’re aggressive.

Keep a level head, and stick to simple questions (ask for a name, contact number, and address). If the other driver is too drunk to manage this, don’t press the point; the police report can provide such details later anyway.

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3. If you spot evidence of alcohol, do take photographs and point it out in your statement

If drunk drivers are collected enough (or have sober friends), they may try to dispose of evidence such as cans and bottles.

Note that a common trick is to fill soda cans (such as Coke or Sprite cans) or water bottles with alcohol, to conceal drunk driving. If you see the drunk driver or other passengers collecting and disposing of such evidence, inform the police as soon as they arrive. The officers can conduct a Breathalyser test.

Also, take note of drivers desperately using breath spray, or gargling out their mouths; these are methods of concealing recent alcohol consumption.

4. Take pictures showing the position of your vehicles, and do include stop signs or traffic lights for context

You should always take pictures of the accident scene – if you have no pictures, the other driver’s photographs will be used instead.

When taking pictures, don’t just focus on the cars’ damages. Take pictures that show the vehicles relative to stop signs, yellow boxes, traffic lights, and street signs; this will give a clearer idea of what transpired.

Ideally, you should have installed a dashboard camera. This can provide decisive evidence in any accident.

5. Do not shake or otherwise touch the drunk driver, if the driver becomes unresponsive

Drunk drivers may lie down and curl up, slump against their car, or just stand around dazed. They may become unresponsive to your requests.

In such cases, never shake them or prod them – you don’t know if they’re unresponsive just because they’re drunk, or because they’re really hurt. If they are injured and you aggravate the condition, you could get into legal trouble later.

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6. Don’t declare that you’re okay until the accident is settled by your insurer

Never claim that you’re fine, verbally or in writing until the accident claim is fully settled. Some injuries, such as whiplash, might take two to three days before the symptoms start to show.

You might be unable to claim for these developing conditions if you declared earlier that your health is fine. So don’t admit liability, even if it’s just to appease an angry, shouting drunk.

Even if you drive safely, others may not. That’s why it’s important to get comprehensive car insurance.

We have no doubt you’re a safe driver. That just makes it even more unfair, when you’re faced with hefty damages because someone else was irresponsible. It pays to ensure you have comprehensive car insurance, even if you could get away with cheaper policies (e.g. Third Party Only insurance).

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