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How Police Officers Identify Drunk Drivers

Every single driver on the road is a potential suspect to a police officer. Officers need to be on the lookout, quite literally, at all times to spot someone who is breaking the law. Most often, this means looking for drivers who could be intoxicated behind the wheel. In order to do so efficiently, there are a few “telltale” signs and behaviors that the police keep an eye open for when trying to identify drunk drivers in a moment.

To reduce your chances of being pulled over and mistaken for a drunk driver, you should try to always remember to avoid these actions. If you do end up being arrested for a traffic offense or DUI, then contact a Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney from our firm right away for a consultation.

The top five signs of intoxicated driving that the police watch for are:

  1. Drifting: Lane control is one of those things that just becomes much more difficult when intoxicated, no matter how many years you have been driving. A vehicle that is drifting left or right while headed down a straightaway is almost-certainly going to get pulled to the side of the road by the first patrol officer in the area.
  2. No headlights: Driving in the dark without headlights is dangerous and also a forgetful behavior that is common among intoxicated motorists. Whenever you head out and the sun is setting, rising, or completely absent, use your headlights.
  3. Speeding: The eyes of a drunk driver may seldom or never reach their speedometer, causing them to barrel down roads well above the speed limit without realizing it. Be mindful of your speed at all times, and never travel faster than what is safe for road and weather conditions. If you do speed, you might just see flashing red-and-blue in your rearview mirror.
  4. Tailgating: Following too closely is a frequent habit of all drivers but seems to be all the more common among intoxicated drivers, who may follow closely to copy the motions of the car ahead of them in an attempt to avoid lane drift.
  5. Ignoring traffic signals: Police are especially vigilant around intersections, where the majority of accidents occur. A car that ignores traffic signals – going straight through a stop sign or red light, failing to realize when the light turns green, and so on – is likely going to be a car that gets pulled over.

Police cannot pull over someone without reasonable suspicion that they are committing or have just committed a crime, such as driving under the influence. While the aforementioned signs and behaviors can be indicative of intoxicated driving, they are not solid concrete evidence that necessarily allow the police to stop a vehicle. Law enforcement are also not allowed to stereotype their suspects, making certainty of intoxication even more important when they pull someone over.

If you have been arrested for a DUI and you believe that your rights were overstepped during the stop or booking process, our Santa Rosa DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. can protect you. With more than a decade of experience in criminal law and thousands of cases handled, our law firm can provide you with the tenacious representation you need to hold onto your driving privileges. Call 707.418.5352 today to request your free consultation.