Drunk friend won’t give up the keys? ‘Call 911’ says police chief

GENESEE COUNTY — Family parties, work parties and normal hangouts are plentiful during the holiday season and tend to include alcohol.

Maybe you’re hosting a party or just attending, but there’s a chance that someone might have imbibed too much and might need to call a ride.

Alcohol-involved collisions total about 10,000 each year according to trafficfactscrash.org. Consistently, alcohol-involved fatalities make up a third of all crash fatalities in Michigan.

If someone is clearly drunk and shouldn’t drive, the first step is encouraging them to stay or get a ride. After all, it might cost $30 for an Uber, compared to the $10,000 one can face in fees if they’re caught driving drunk. But what do you do if they choose not to listen and try to drive anyway?

The answer might not be physical restraint. Holly Police Chief Jerry Narsh said police generally don’t want bystanders tackling anyone or physically restraining anyone who may be drunk.

He said the safest step is simply calling the police on them. He describes this as “tough medicine,” but it’s better than death or an injury. Dispatchers will want the make, model and direction of the car, with a plate number.

Sometimes an onlooker can see a vehicle swerving on the road, or a person stumbling toward their vehicle with keys in hand.

Technically a bystander isn’t required by law to report it, nor are they culpable (legally responsible) in case of a crash. While a bystander doesn’t have legal responsibility,

Narsh said a party host could.

“If you’re going to host a party, there’s some statutorial language that can do you harm,” Narsh said. He said that the host’s activity falls under “dram shop” laws in Michigan. A dram shop is a location that serves alcohol. If someone is over-served and allowed to drive, any damage caused by the party guest’s drunk driving can be brought against the host in a civil suit.

Narsh suggests making it known that the host wants a safe party, so keys might be gathered at the door. “Start from the perspective of ‘get the keys, and then determine safety,’” Narsh said. Such language can even be on invitations, so it’s known ahead of time.

Ideally, someone who drank too much should get a ride, whether from a friend or from a ride sharing service.

Hewitt Judson of Fenton Township drives for Uber, the popular ride sharing company. His calls include transporting people who are avoiding driving drunk.

He said it is difficult to get an Uber driver in the Fenton and Linden area. “There is less call for rides from those areas, and consequently fewer drivers make themselves available there,” Judson said.

He said if a car is available, it can take up to 20 minutes to arrive.

Fenton Police said they would make every effort to help someone get a ride if the tipsy person calls police for help. “We’d help them call friends or a family member,” said Fenton Police Chief Jason Slater. He urges partygoers to be proactive and prepared before they go out.

Safe ride options

In advance of any gettogether, designate a nondrinking friend or family member to drive you home.

Getting a Lyft or Uber ride can be difficult unless you’re in a larger Michigan city. There options in Fenton and surrounding areas that can help.

Hey Taxi!

This company is headquartered at Bishop Airport. Call (810) 629- 7080 for a ride. It will cost $27 at a minimum. Allow 25 to 30 minutes for a ride. You can set up a reservation at reservation@heytaxi.us.

How to speak to someone who may be inebriated

Rosie Ellison, LLMFT (limited licensed marriage and family therapist with Peace Services PC) suggests being kind and non-accusatory. She said simple dialogue is best. However, “you can’t compromise if it means they end up driving,” she said.