- Question: [Wednesday, 8th Adar, 5783]
I am a civil volunteer who works with local law enforcement and I’m usually off duty on Purim. Every year I join the community Purim celebration party which is very festive with lots of alcoholic beverages. They put me in charge of making sure that everyone gets home okay. One of my primary jobs is to make sure that people who have drunk alcohol do not drive. Last year, however, this job of mine caused friction with some of the participants from whom I took away their keys, knowing that they were clearly inebriated and could not drive, but they could not care less and demanded the keys back. Unfortunately, our community has suffered trauma from this in the past, having a community member seriously injured due to driving home drunk, so we take this very seriously. My question is as follows: Can I announce that anyone who is deemed to have drunk too much alcohol to be able to drive, and insists on driving, will be immediately informed on to the police with their license plates number, or is this considered Mesira? To note, that our community is not located in Israel, so we are not dealing here with a Jewish police force.
Not only is it permitted for you to call the police and inform on a drunk driver, but you are actually obligated to do so for the sake of the safety of the driver and others on the road. Your community is very responsible in hiring you to keep law and order and keep the roads safe. Other communities, such as Lakewood, also work with law enforcement during Purim to prevent DUIs, and apparently they have been very successful in influencing the public that there is zero tolerance for DUIs, and the people who can’t drive are offered a ride home.
Explanation: It is a Halachic obligation to follow all the driving laws of one’s state and country. It is forbidden for one to drive in an unsafe manner, such as to speed past the speeding limit. It goes without saying that it is forbidden to drive while drunk, or under the influence of any drug or alcohol. It is permitted to call the police on a Jew who is violating driving laws, such as speeding, driving drunk, and the like, in order to stop him in the act. Such a Jew is considered a Rodeif. Accordingly, there is no Din of Mesira in informing to the police on such a Jew, as the concept of Mesira does not apply to a Rodeif or when it is done to prevent an impending future danger from occurring, and only applies regarding a past action that will not repeat itself. In such a case, not only is it allowed to inform on him, but it is actually a mitzvah on every person to inform, and so I heard from Harav Yaakov Yosef z”l, a leading Jerusalem Posek, that one time he instructed an individual by a Purim celebration, regarding what to do with a guest of his who is very drunk and is threatening to drive home, that if he needs to he may even shoot at his tires to prevent him from driving in this state.
Sources: See regarding the obligation to drive safely: See Michaber 378:9 and Smeh 378:12 based on Rosh, regarding one who rides a horse too fast that he is liable for all damages, as he is riding without permission; Shevet Halevi 6:112; Imreiy Yaakov 10:43; See regarding the prohibition of Mesira, and the cases iin which it is a Mitzvah to do so: Admur C.M. Nizkeiy Mamon Halacha 6 “it is forbidden to inform on another Jew to a Gentile, whether regarding his body or money…. However, one who is accustomed to hit others and one cannot save himself from being hit by him unless he informs on him, then it is a mitzvah on every individual to inform on him to the Gentiles in order so he stop hitting”; See regarding the allowance to inform on someone who is not driving safely: Minchas Yitzchak 8:148