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What DUI Driving Patterns Do Officers Look For?

  • May 27, 2017

    Most drunk driving investigations start when a law enforcement officer initiates a traffic stop. In some cases, a drunk driving investigation starts when the police arrive on the scene of a traffic crash. However, most cases of drunk driving don’t involve a vehicle crash.

    Law enforcement has to have a valid, legal reason to stop a vehicle. They can’t just drive around and pull vehicles over because they’re leaving a bar or because it’s late at night. Instead, they have to have a lawful purpose in order to detain someone. State and federal law protect the public from unreasonable intrusion into their lives. That means that law enforcement has to learn and follow the rules for initiating contact with the public.

    Law enforcement must have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. They don’t have to be sure that a person has broken a law, but it has to look that way. They can stop a person for suspicion of one law violation and end up investigating the person for another violation entirely.

    This is how many drunk driving investigations start. Many times, law enforcement looks for a traffic infraction. They see a person run a red light or fail to signal. They might see a person driving without using their beams late at night. Alternatively, they might see a driver fail to turn off their high beams when they meet traffic coming in the other direction.

    Any of these infractions gives a law enforcement officer the opportunity to lawfully stop a vehicle. A driver gives the officer a legal opening to stop their vehicle if they violate even the most basic of traffic laws. The officer may pull the driver over for a reasonable period of time.

    When you roll down your window to hand law enforcement your information, they might notice a smell of intoxicants. They might see open alcohol. You might fumble to hand them your driver’s license. All of a sudden, law enforcement can change their investigation to an investigation for drunk driving.

    In addition to watching for traffic violations, law enforcement can observe whether a person’s driving shows signs of impairment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a national organization that studies driving and issues safety recommendations. Their work has led to certain signs that experts believe show evidence of driving impairment.

    Drivers who weave in and out of traffic are more likely to be under the influence of alcohol than drivers who do not. Drivers who straddle the center line or hug the corner are also more likely to be under the influence. If you drive far under the speed limit or if you speed up and slow down frequently, you’re also tipping off law enforcement that you might have had too much to drink to drive a vehicle.

    NHTSA has not found a correlation between excessive speed and drunk driving. If this is why law enforcement stopped your vehicle, your Los Angeles DUI lawyers should take a close look. However, if law enforcement stops you for speeding and then detects bloodshot eyes and other signs of intoxication, they can change their investigation. If you travel more than 100 miles per hour while under the influence, you can face enhanced charges under California Law 23582 VC. This can bring you a mandatory sixty-day term in jail.

    If you’re facing a DUI charge, work with a DUI attorney to evaluate the case. If law enforcement stopped you improperly, your attorney can help you fight the charges. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate all of your options and prepare your best defense.

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