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FAQ: Reporting "Dangerous Drivers"

What do you do when you see a dangerous driver? Legally, there is no obligation to report someone who is driving dangerously. Although it may seem like a waste of time to report something to our clogged and at times unresponsive emergency system, I'd like to encourage you to consider calling 9-1-1 if you see a driver acting dangerously or erratically.

What is a "dangerous driver"?

People make mistakes when they're driving. They cut people off. They fail to signal a last minute turn. To be clear, I'm not asking you to call 9-1-1 every time you see someone driving 57 in a 55 mph zone. When I talk about dangerous drivers, I'm talking about drivers that pose an imminent threat to people or property. If you see a vehicle driving aggressively or recklessly, in a sustained manner, and fear that they may cause harm to others, call 9-1-1 and report what you see.

What information should you share?

It's best to have as much information as possible, including:

  • Vehicle Information - Make, model, license plate

  • Description of Driver - Cars and trucks can't be charged with crimes. Noting the physical characteristics of the driver is important information.

  • Location - Where did you see the dangerous driver, and which direction were they headed

  • Description of Behavior - It's best if you can give a detailed description of how the driver was behaving, what specific actions they were taking, and how they pose an imminent threat to others.

  • A picture is worth a thousand words - If you can safely take a video or picture of the situation, it may be useful in subsequent investigations.

Real Life Implications

In 2019 I represented a teenager who had been hit by a BMW driver in SE Portland. Prior to the collision, the BMW had been driving aggressively on Highway 99, along Holgate Blvd., and through the neighborhood of Creston-Kenilworth. TWO separate individuals, having scary interactions with the BMW called 9-1-1 to report his dangerous driving. Unfortunately, emergency response times are not instantaneous, and the driver struck a teenage skateboarder when the driver cut a corner too sharp. While the 9-1-1 calls were not able to prevent the crash from happening, these emergency reports were still valuable for justice. During the investigation phase of the case, I was able to find these callers and they willingly testified during the civil trial. These two independent witnesses painted a picture of a callous and aggressive driver, who was making dangerous maneuvers through a residential area, in the minutes before hitting a pedestrian. Because of their testimony, the jury saw my client as more credible, and the issue of liability or "who was at fault" was much less of a question. Final advice: When it comes to dangerous drivers, use your best judgment. Remember to be safe and protect yourself, but also do what you can to protect others.

Further Reading
This guide was written by personal injury attorney Charley Gee. This post and any images are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Charley Gee is an experienced personal injury attorney in Portland, Oregon. Charley Gee P.C. represents clients statewide and is dedicated to making the roads safer for all Oregonians.


Portland personal injury lawyer Charley Gee
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