Robert writes to say that his neighbor regularly drives drunk and asks what he can do about it. The answer involves stepping forward.

“I’ve seen him swerving and coming over blind sections in the wrong lane,” Robert writes. “So far I have not been able to call the police before he parks at his house. When I do call 911, they tell me that there’s not much they can do if he isn’t in the vehicle anymore. “Yesterday it was so bad, he could have easily killed a bicyclist or pedestrian. Is there anything I can do?”

If Robert lives in Sonoma County, CHP Officer Jonathan Sloat recommends offering to make a citizens arrest.

“If this person is in our jurisdiction and calling 911, they should give all of the pertinent information and inform the dispatcher that they will perform a citizens arrest once an officer arrives on scene,” Sloat said. “This allows the officer to detain the offender and have them perform sobriety tests.

“However, it also means that the witness will be required to attend court proceedings to testify to his observations, otherwise the case could be dropped.”


Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter at @PDRoadWarrior. Send questions to Linda.Castrone@pressdemocrat.com, and write Road Warrior in the subject line.


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  1. jeff

    How do you stop a drunk bicyclist?

    May 7th, 2013 8:20 am


    Great idea, but then you have made an implacable enemy of a neighbor who can/will retaliate and harass you forever. This happened to a friend, who after reporting a criminal act, found his tires slashed, windows broken, dog feces on his porch, etc. Be careful before you get involved, this could be more dangerous than just a drunk driver.

    May 7th, 2013 9:30 am

  3. Kark

    On the other side, if he doesn’t citizens arrest this guy (or any drunk driver) it may be him or his kids that are killed by a DUI.

    I say make DUI offenses a MAJOR CRIME. First offense: $25,000 fine, auction car (unless stolen), 30 days in jail (lose job). Second offense triples the fine and jail time. Third time is considered a FELONY.

    May 7th, 2013 9:58 am

  4. jeff

    Who writes a letter expressing concern that a drunk driver might hit a bicyclist or pedestrian, but no concern for the public at large? Most drunk driving crashes are solo, or happen at intersections. This is a fake letter by the Sonoma County Bicycle PAC to further their agenda.

    May 7th, 2013 10:02 am

  5. Rick


    1/ A drunk cyclist poses far more danger to him/herself than anyone else, which is not the case with a drunk motorist.

    2/ I’m surprised the remedies mentioned don’t include just talking to the neighbor?

    3/ What about videotaping his erratic driving? Wouldn’t that be helpful in prosecuting the drunk driver?

    May 7th, 2013 10:37 am

  6. jody hampton

    The suspended licensed drunk that hit my mom head on in 1957 killed our baby sitter. To my knowledge he’s never driven drunk again. This seems to be the case with drunks. It takes them actually killing someone before they stop. If no one has been killed yet they just keep doing it. Hey, it’s Sonoma County where you’ll never hear “sound as a dollar” or (my favorite) “sober as a judge”. Yes Elaine, we remember you.

    May 7th, 2013 10:57 am

  7. Skippy

    Further evidence that the police do not stop crimes, they simply fill out the paperwork later on after the emergency has long passed. IOW, a citizen is unable to affect the nature of his neighborhood unless he grows the required organs to deal with the consequences. Natural Law 101; If you won’t stand up for and defend your block, what makes you think anyone else will? If your neighbor thinks he can freely vandalize, harass and terrorize you, what are you willing to do to adjust his perspective and subsequent behaviors?

    May 7th, 2013 11:56 am

  8. jeff

    Rick, Bicyclists over the age of 18 should be required to have an valid CDL so that infractions can go against their driving record. They should also be required to carry liability insurance. It’s called accountability.

    May 7th, 2013 12:16 pm

  9. Sam

    Jeff? There is no SC Bicycle PAC. Why do you feel this brief mention of bikes equals a legislative agenda?

    May 7th, 2013 12:41 pm

  10. jeff

    ” A drunk cyclist poses far more danger to him/herself than anyone else, which is not the case with a drunk motorist.”

    So in Rick’s opinion, it’s okay to break the law by riding drunk.

    May 7th, 2013 1:00 pm

  11. TD

    Jeff – The only person expressing an agenda is YOU! You have an obvious agenda against bicyclists. Here’s some facts:

    1) A pedestrian or bicyclist is considerably more venerable in a collision (including a DUI-related collision) than somebody in a car.

    2) The fact that the writer is most concerned about pedestrians and bicyclists is likely due to this increased venerability, nothing more. Not everything in life is a conspiracy.

    3) DUI laws apply equally to bicyclists as the do drivers.

    4) Even if this was a plant by the bicycle collation (which is a huge assumption to make), that does not diminish the danger of driving under the influence, the point of this letter or the advise given.

    May 7th, 2013 1:49 pm

  12. jeff

    No agenda against bicyclists. It is the bicyclists that have a clear agenda. The harassment ordinance is part of that agenda. Sorry, TD, but when your side tells me I am “not entitled to my opinion” and my choices are to “chill or relocate”, that proves arrogance. I could go on, but back to my unanswered question: How do stop a drunk bicyclist? It’s a valid question.

    May 7th, 2013 3:18 pm

  13. John Murphy

    And in Jeff’s opinion, it’s ok to drive drunk, as long as you don’t ride a bicycle drunk.

    May 7th, 2013 3:44 pm

  14. TD

    Jeff – Please show me where in my previous statement I said or even implied that you are “not entitled to your opinion” or to “chill or relocate”. I didn’t. Expressing opinions are the core purpose of this comment section and nowhere did I suggest that you shouldn’t be able to express yours. Likewise, I am entitled to reply with my opinion about your statements.

    And I believe I indirectly answered your question, but I will expand on my previous response. Bicyclists are subject to the same drunk driving laws as vehicular drivers, and therefore are subject to the same enforcement. So a drunk bicyclists would need to be observed and stopped by a peace office and undergo the applicable testing. Alternative, a citizen’s arrest could be initiated as described in this article.

    May 7th, 2013 5:15 pm

  15. Tony Castanza

    I have a suggestion:

    It’s less forceful and may actually have
    an impact without you worrying about making an enemy.
    If you don’t know the person that well, you never know..

    If you, truly believe, that this person has that bad of a problem,

    Find a flyer, hand out or leaflet for either an A.A. group in
    the area or a place where that person can seek help, if it’s
    alcohol abuse. Respect that person, put it in their mailbox
    but don’t harass them by blanketing their car or house
    with it..

    Don’t hand write anything on it, it will just get discarded and that neighbor might actually get pissed.

    Remember, there are people out there who have 5+
    DUI’s. Calling the police and adding another…might…
    …not help as much as you think. But if you provide a
    route, for the person to take the initiative to
    seek help..then it might be better than making an

    Remember, it’s a neighbor..unless they are a piece of
    crap..I’d consider that doing that before potentially engaging
    someone “under the influence” or…perhaps…pissing
    off a neighbor who really isn’t under the influence.

    May 7th, 2013 9:07 pm

  16. Tony Castanza

    …it’s like those religon fliers to see from time to time in your mailbox. It’s a non-intrusive way of going about it. But, obviously..you know the situation better than I do.

    May 7th, 2013 9:13 pm

  17. Tony Castanza


    Good initials..I like them, very similar, they are actually

    No arguments. To hell with bicyclists and if this is
    actually a “real” problem article.

    The better question to ask is, IF, this situation is real:

    How, could *you* help a neighbor with a problem, because
    you care, without pissing them off, without making them
    feel like they are worthless and without putting yourself
    into harms way?

    I really do believe intervention is important, with alcohol
    abuse..on many levels but especially…with gangs and drugs.

    (who have my initials, but we ain’t the same person. ;) )

    John Murphy, Jeff, Sam—all of the people who posted here….

    What do YOU think, would be the best way to address
    this situation from a neighbor perspective?

    It’s actually, a good question to ask and actually think
    about, unless…you people just want to argue online. :D

    ..over bicyclists…

    Maybe these comments, just might encourage someone
    to seek help. Who Knows? But let’s focus on something
    that will help, instead of bickering…on a website…over
    bicyclists. lol!

    “Tony Castanza”

    May 8th, 2013 7:35 pm

  18. Don B

    Thoughtful comments here mostly, but stop any personal attacks.
    I’d say first, meet all your neighbors who are willing to be met.
    Walk around on a Saturday afternoon, compliment their lawn, car or kids. Talk up an “Earthquake Party”- emergency preparedness. {Party Game: Vote on your favorite utility; then host shuts it off. WARNING- not the gas, unless you can relight EVERY pilot you shut off. And you should have a wrench tied to the gas meter.}
    Next: more to come.

    May 10th, 2013 8:17 pm

  19. Don B

    Second: Hamish is right, there is risk of making an unreasoning enemy- and he’ll subpoena, deduce or just wild-guess your name. Be very careful.

    May 10th, 2013 8:29 pm

  20. Don B

    Third: He likes to drink, so do I. Drink at home, the booze is cheaper. His house or yours. STOP at the first display of weapons or aggressive behavior.

    May 10th, 2013 8:35 pm

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