How Police Look for Impaired Motorists

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over one million people have died in traffic collisions in the United States since 1966. From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, over 50,000 people died annually in traffic crashes, NHTSA reports.

Since the early 1970s, traffic safety and seatbelt use has improved considerably and the death toll has declined accordingly, even though there are more vehicles on the road now. According to NHTSA, the chances of being killed in a traffic crash in the 1960s was 3 to 4 times higher than it is today – that’s incredible.

The number of alcohol-related crashes has also declined since the 1960s and 1970s. The decline is attributed to education, public awareness, anti-drinking and driving laws, and law enforcement’s efforts to nab drunk drivers.

Driving Behaviors: Signs of Impairment

NHTSA conducted a lot of research that has contributed greatly to DUI enforcement. NHTSA’s research led to standardized training in DUI detection developed for law enforcement officers nationwide.

NHTSA contends that its research discovered the behaviors that are the most indicative that someone is impaired. In fact, NHTSA sponsored research that led to the development of a DUI detection guide, a training video, and training materials for officers nationwide.

NHTSA’s detection guide describes a detailed set of driver behaviors, which is used by cops to detect motorists who are likely driving under the influence. Since the “DWI Detection Guide” contains a long list of behaviors, we are going to include a partial list:

  • Weaving
  • Swerving
  • Drifting
  • Nearly hitting another vehicle or object
  • Accelerating or decelerating without explanation
  • Driving the wrong way
  • Improper or unsafe lane change
  • Driving without the headlights on in the dark

The above are just some examples of what an officer looks for when watching for drunk drivers. Once the police pull the person over, next the officers look for other cues – cues that come from drivers themselves.

Is the driver having trouble with the motor vehicle controls? Are they fumbling to find their license and registration? Is the driver slurring their words? Does the driver smell like alcohol? Once the driver steps outside of the vehicle, are they having trouble standing upright?

These are all signs of impairment that the officer will be looking for to determine if the driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the case of a highly intoxicated driver, often he or she will demonstrate driving and post-stop behaviors that clearly indicate to the officer that they are impaired by something.

Arrested for DUI in Orange County?

Regardless of how your DUI stop went, the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. can help. Our lead attorney, Virginia L. Landry is Board Certified in DUI defense and a proud member of the National College for DUI Defense. Call now for a free case evaluation with the DUI Queen!

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