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Dad is 90, congestive heart failure, walks very slowly with 2 canes, can not stand alone. But he appears to be in his right mind. He still drives and goes to the local bar for 2 martinis almost every day. Then he comes home in a nasty mood and passes out or picks a fight. I have tried to get his Dr to stop his driving. I have talked to the police about stopping him as he leaves the bar. No one wants to do anything."We don't want to take his last bit of independence away from him" If he causes an accident and has been drinking, can they come back on me because I didn't stop him?

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Lizzie, at least you are trying to make a change and are taking some of the advice given... that is a huge start. Good for you. Plus it is a learning curve for the rest of us who might see this happen down the road with our own family [my sig other did with his son].
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My one issue with discussions like this is there isn't room or time to put ALL your concerns down. Of course my liability is not my only issue. Give me a couple of hours and I might be able to touch on all the issues involved in caring for both my parents. I truly am a caring, responsible person. I just don't have time or space to express all that. Sorry if I sound gruff.
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What I can't figure out is why the local police are enabling the father by not writing any tickets. With traffic tickets such as speeding and DWI, the insurance carrier would be notified, and with enough tickets the carrier could pull the car insurance.

Of course there is no guarantee that one wouldn't drive on a suspended license or drive without car insurance.... young people do that every day.

Lizzie, as for your parents deeding the house to you with a clause that they remain in the house until they die.... many promise their parents that they will take care of them and/or never put them into a nursing home... but in most cases those promises were made when Mom and/or Dad were quite mobile, coming and going as they pleased, could take care of themselves... we never think far into the future of one's parent being quite ill, and we never think about taking away their car keys. But life changes as our parents get older needing more help then we can give, and a rational parent would understand and make changes for the better.
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I'm glad you are trusting your head (and gut) to go ahead with your decision Lizzie. Let us know how it goes. (I had to do this with my mother, and even after 8 years she talks about driving... I know she is not capable of driving... She probably does also... even though it's a difficult decision for them... )... Oh yes... she 'passed' her driver's license test which was just a vision test in Colo... scary... but, she won't drive... I do the best to get her around or by other transportation).
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No. They can't come after you for your father's actions that you have already reported to the authorities.

Is that really what you're most worried about?

Is there a local cab firm that would quote for the drive to his favourite bar and back home? If he drives drunk, he's driving uninsured. If he injures another person, he will be sued for punitive damages and will end up bankrupt. A cab would be much, much cheaper.
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I talked to his Doctor who "doesn't want to take his independence away". I have informed the police numerous times of his drinking and driving. They stopped him twice for speeding but let him go. They "don't want to take his independence away". Last week I went to the police station and spoke with a detective. He filled out the form to DMV to request a license review. Then when he took it to his sergeant he was told he couldn't send it in unless my dad was in an accident. So now I am down to the worst case. I will have to confront my Dad regardless of the results. I know he will go ballistic and cut me off from my Mom. Mom will be beside herself upset. I have no choice. I believe I will talk to Mom first so she is forewarned of my plans. Wish me luck!!!
For those of you who have not faced this issue yet... I suggest you have the discussion now before the parent is incapable of safe driving. Set a time to give up the keys. Maybe you can avoid this being a crisis.
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Something definitely needs to be done. You say your dad walks with two canes, can't stand alone, has congestive heart failure, but is in his right mind. I have to say that maybe he's not if he is out drinking and then driving, especially mixing drinks with medication. The mixing can be deadly - not just for your dad, but for the fact that he could hurt or kill someone if involved in an accident. First try talking with him about this when he's sober and ask him how he would feel if he hurt or killed someone with his car. If this doesn't go well, then you'll have to find some other way. There are a lot of helpful answers on this site from people who care and may have had a similar situation. Just find some way to correct this problem soon, or it may be too late for more people than just your dad. You may find that once it is resolved, you may feel like a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders because you won't be so worried about him and this issue. Good luck, and keep us posted if you can about the results.
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If he is all in his right mind (questionable in my opinion for anyone who justifies drinking and driving).. ask him.. when he is not drunk what he is going to do if he hits and kills someone. Start pulling up stores about drunk drivers who have hit and killed people.

They cannot come after you, you have done what you can legally to stop him. It sucks that you cannot get help, i can not imagine how gut wrenching this situation must be for you. He is not just endangering his life, but the life of others.. and that is pretty selfish of him.
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Update - I looked into the DS7 form with DMV. The only problem is it isn't anonymous. So I went to the police department. They filed a request for license review from them to the DMV. Also they will be watching for him to leave the local watering hole. They didn't stop him yesterday, wish they had. He made it home and then passed out in the chair. At least it is documented that I did something and hopefully soon the DMV will pull his license. I know he will be a bear to live with while this is happening. I'm sure he will blame me anyway. With the alcohol comes paranoia.
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We all live in the house I grew up in. Dad and Mom gave the house to me years ago with a stipulation in the deed that they can live there until they die. Dad has Mom terrified of nursing homes. Promised her he would never let anyone put her in a dirty box and forget her. As long as Dad is mentally stable I can't do anything without causing a major family breakup which would kill my Mom.
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How about getting your mom out of there and into a NH where she can get proper care?
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I appreciate all the answers. I will check out the DMV form. Also have talked to the police many times in the past 5 years. Today I am going to the police department to file formally. I hope this will give me some legal protection and maybe they will do something. They have pulled him over twice this year but they don't do anything. My problem gets compounded because I also have Mom who is 90 and totally disabled from a stroke and post stroke parkinsons. They have been married 71 years and she is totally under his control. If I piss him off he takes it out on her. If he gets mad at me he will forbid me to help Mom and then she has no one. So I have to be very careful to keep a balance. I have asked his Dr to step in and he won't. Believe me I do think of the woman with her child in the car. It makes me sick that I feel so stuck. Your posts have given me a new boost of courage. I agree I HAVE to do SOMETHING. Pray for me.
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Maggie, great idea. Those million dollar umbrella policies are fairly inexpensive, too. I pay around $230 per year for a $2M policy.
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Another comment about an umbrella policy: Did you know that your car insurance can "settle" without agreement from you? Here's an example: you hit a van with three little-leaguers coming home from practice. The kids are killed. Your car insurance has a $300,000 liability limit. Most do, some even less. Your insurance company isn't even going to defend that in court. The plaintiffs' attorneys are going to find out you have a $300K limit, own whatever-you-own and are going to sue for that and plenty more. Your car insurance isn't even going to waste attorneys fighting that and will settle their $300K obligation. Here's the kicker: That leaves YOU defending YOURSELF to try to save your home and any other assets you own.

With a million dollar umbrella, you're more likely to get defended by your insurance company lawyers. If you don't have one? Get one. Just FYI.
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I know this is probably totally off the wall, but when Dad is sleeping off his drinks, and if you and a friend could dress up the car to look like it had gone off the road on the driver's side.... no damage, just mud in the wheel wells and spattered on the front fender, driver's door, back door, and back fender, and tall grass stuck in the bumper. I know if I saw my vehicle like that it would scare the bejeebers out of me.
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I agree something needs to be done to keep your father from drinking and driving. I would not recommend any act of vandalism on your father's car if he is the sole owner.
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Lizzie, how does your Dad drive when he isn't drinking? If he is still a safe driver sober you wouldn't want to take away his driving privileges otherwise you would be doing all his driving for him. You'd be amazed how many errands elders can run when they are retired.

As for the drunk driving, treat Dad like an adult would treat a teenage son/daughter who came home driving drunk... ground him by taking away his keys for a week. Dad won't like that, but maybe then he would learn responsible driving.

You mentioned your Dad uses two canes, walks slow, and can't stand alone has very little to do with driving.... sitting is different, as long as one can still lift their leg without a lot of pain in their knee to put on the brake, they can still drive.
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I agree with that he shouldn't drive for sure and what the other's here are saying... Another note to 'all' driver's: If you own your house and have assets get an 'umbrella' policy from any home or care insurance agency. It doesn't cost you much for a yr (I pay $128/yr) but you'll get a million dollars if someone should sue you... that includes if someone should fall and get hurt on your property.
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Disable his car, then do all that Pam has stated. He may have some rights and we may think we don't want to take away his privilege to drive but he has no right to take away someone's right to live. If you continue to let him drive the price may be much too high for everyone concerned if he should have an accident.
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Personal injury attorneys will sue the driver, the bar, the POA/Guardian and anyone else in the chain of knowledge. So Lizzie, you go to the NY DMV website at dmv.ny.gov and you print out the DS-7 form, fill it out and mail it in. This is a "Request for Driver Review". Let the DMV decide.
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I would imagine he's drinking more than 2 martinis each night.

No, you can't be held responsible if your dad gets in trouble.
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Is the car in your name? The insurance? If yes to either one, you are most definitely at least civilly liable should he have an accident while driving drunk. Well, even if he's NOT driving drunk, actually.

Your dad is a walking time bomb. If he has congestive heart failure, he's taking powerful diuretics to dump water from his system. Combine that action with alcohol, and my guess would be that even after ONE martini, he's legally drunk. Combined with some of the other medications he's taking, he could be legally drunk half-way through the first one. After two? He's blind drunk.

And although all you're worried about in your post here is yourself and your liability, how about the young mom taking her 2-year-old home from daycare? Crossing the center line and hitting her head on? There's the REAL problem.

What can you do? You can write a letter to the owner of the bar along with a photograph of your dad telling him that he is over-serving him every time he comes in. You can take his keys. You can hide his car. You can break the car key off in the ignition. You can disconnect appropriate wires under the hood to prevent it from starting. Insist that he take a cab to-and-from his watering hole. You can write a letter to his doctor telling him what you've told us and tell him to pull his license with the Secretary of State. You can write to the Secretary of State yourself. You can write to the local police department reporting him. You can call the cops and report erratic driving as he pulls away from the bar (whether it's erratic or not). You can install an alcohol interlock system on his car.

Lots of things you can do to prevent his driving. But you can't "do nothing".
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As a member of a family, who was almost destroyed by a drunk driver I feel you have a responsibility to take away those keys and disable or remove the car. If something happens while he is driving, do you really want a tragedy on your conscience? You know about his drinking and allowing him to drive makes you as guilty as your Dad. It is tough making the right decisions but it has to be done.
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They can't come after you. But if he hurts or kills someone, the victims will come after his house, money, and anything else of worth. Do you live with him? The house will be taken.

Angel
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