Have you ever wondered how police identify drunk drivers in the United States? To make a traffic stop for suspected driving under the influence (DUI), law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred, is currently happening, or will happen soon. Various characteristics indicate impaired driving, and this type of behavior is what highway patrolmen look for when searching for drunk drivers.
Five ways police officers identify drunk drivers are:
1. Identifying Driver Tendencies
One way police officers detect drunk drivers is by identifying driver tendencies. Many driving characteristics indicate an intoxicated motorist.
These tendencies include:
- Swerving or drifting into another lane
- Quick acceleration or erratic braking
- Driving well under the speed limit
- Abruptly turning, turning too wide, or illegally turning
- Driving in the center or on the wrong side of the road
- Turn signaling that is inconsistent with driving actions
2. Roadside Checks
Another way officers spot drunk drivers is with DUI checkpoints, also known as roadside safety checks. These stop points allow officers to briefly stop vehicles in locations with high traffic and obstructions. These locations make it hard for drivers to see the stop point in advance and avoid it. Once stopped, drivers must roll down their window and speak to the officer while the officer looks for signs of impairment, including the odor of alcohol.
3. Reports to Police
Officers catch many drunk drivers as a result of people reporting their car or license plate number to the police. Citizens often call in drivers after seeing them get in their car and leave intoxicated from a bar or drinking establishment. Fast-food employees may also call and report inebriated drivers in their drive-thrus.
4. Observing Signs of Inebriation
Once a police officer pulls over a suspected drunk driver, the officer will observe them for signs of intoxication. A few telltale signs of an impaired driver are red or bloodshot eyes, flushed face, slurred or rambling speech, the scent of alcohol on the breath, and delayed responses to questions. There are also other visual signs, such as empty beer cans on the floor of the car or bottles of alcohol sticking out from under the seat.
5. Administering a Test
After observing the above signs of drunk driving, officers have probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated and may administer preliminary tests to detect impairment. There are a few different types of tests police officers can perform, including a breathalyzer, blood test, and field sobriety test. A breathalyzer is a device used to measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) by breathing into it, while a blood test requires the officer to take a sample of the driver’s blood to measure the amount of chemical substance present. In a field sobriety test, an officer will ask a driver to step out of their vehicle and perform tasks such as standing on one leg for some time, walking in a straight line, or reciting a list of numbers or letters.
Experienced DUI Attorneys in Tucson
If you are facing DUI charges or any other criminal charges in Arizona, you can face penalties in criminal court. Selecting a knowledgeable and experienced DUI defense lawyer is critical to the success of your case. At Grabb & Durando, we will fight for your rights and work hard to help you mitigate or avoid legal consequences.