Throughout life we face awkward situations but few can compare to the dilemma faced when a loved one gets behind the wheel of the car drunk.
Cajoling the family member to stay for a bit longer, or overnight sometimes works, but if the person has a drinking problem that isn’t usually a solution. Forcibly taking keys away can escalate into a violent outburst which ultimately involves the police.
In a recent case an Ontario judge commended a woman for taking the extremely hard decision to phone the police after her father left the house drunk and drove away. He was caught and charged by police. In court he was convicted and lost his licence for a minimum of one year, and perhaps longer.
I suspect that the family is now coping with many issues, not the least of which is the decision made by the father to drink and drive. By calling the police the daughter may well have saved several lives.
If you have a family member who habitually drinks and drives you might consider the following strategies:
Do not serve any alcohol when they come over
Host gatherings in the middle of the day when the temptation to drink beforehand is less
Make it clear when the person comes over, publicly or privately, that you will take their keys when they arrive and will not return them if alcohol consumption occurs. Doing this while everyone is sober can reduce the risk of confrontation later.
Insist the person attend your house with someone who will not be drinking at all, and who will drive them home.
Have space ready for the person to spend the night if they do drink.
If they leave your house drunk and drive, tell them you are going to call the police, and then do so. If you serve them alcohol and they crash the car you may well be placed in a liable position.
Throughout life we face akward situations but few can compare to the dillema faced when a loved one gets behind the wheel of the car drunk.