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How Police Officers Detect Drunk Drivers

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During the late 1960s and early 1970s, over 50,000 people died annually from car accidents. A significant amount of involved alcohol.

Due to the apparent danger of drunk driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted extensive research to provide police departments throughout the United States with useful and scientific-based information about the behavioral patterns often associated with impairment.

Since 1979, law enforcement has been using this DWI detection guide to pull over motorists who are likely to be drunk driving.

The following are the four major categories of behaviors police officers look for when detecting intoxicated drivers:

  1. Difficulty maintaining proper lane position – Drunk drivers typically experience issues staying within their own driving lane. Common examples include driving toward the left or right side of the road, swerving, weaving through traffic, or making extremely wide turns.
  2. Judgment problems – When operating a vehicle, drivers are responsible for continuously making a series of judgments while on the road, whether it’s following traffic signals or the flow of traffic. Comm examples of judgment issues include making illegal turns, driving in the wrong lane, driving off-road, changing lanes without signaling, or tailgating.
  3. Awareness issues – Drivers must always remain vigilant to anticipate changing road conditions. If a driver lacks awareness, then the likelihood of an accident and/or injury increases. Common examples include driving the wrong way, delayed responses to traffic signals, using the wrong turn signals when changing lanes, or driving without headlights on in the evening.
  4. Acceleration and braking problems – Drunk drivers have trouble judging distance and speed behind the wheel. Common acceleration issues include driving at various speeds or driving extremely slower or faster than the posted speed limit. Common braking issues include making jerky stops, stopping well before the intersection, or stopping at an odd angle.

Anyone of these signs gives a police officer reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop. If a cop notices an odor of alcohol coming from the driver or the vehicle, slurred speech, delayed responses to questions, or poor motor skills, it is more than likely the motorist is intoxicated.

If you have been arrested for a DWI in Nassau County, NY, contact our experienced legal team at Foley Griffin today and request a free consultation.

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