How Do Police Detect Drunk Drivers?

Before law enforcement officials can establish probable cause and make a DUI arrest in Rhode Island, they must first establish “reasonable suspicion” in order to make an initial traffic stop. This legal concept means that a crime is most likely being, has been, or will be committed based on apparent facts and circumstances, as well as an officer’s training and experience.

In other words, the police are looking for certain visual cues that indicate drunk driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a list of more than 100 visual cues for detecting intoxicated motorists based on tens of thousands of stops made by police officers.

The following are the four main signs of drunk driving:

  • Acceleration and braking issues – Since drunk drivers have a hard time gauging distance and speed, they experience both speeding and stopping problems. Common examples of braking issues include coming to a stop well before or beyond a crosswalk or intersection, making short and jerky stops, or stopping the vehicle at an odd angle. Common examples of speeding problems include failure to drive at a consistent speed, driving 10 mph faster or slower than the posted speed limit, or sudden acceleration or deceleration without a valid reason.
  • Difficulties maintaining proper lane position – Drunk drivers have problems staying within a driving lane or while moving between lanes. Common examples include weaving through traffic and nearly crashing into other vehicles or objects, swerving, drifting toward one side of the road, and making turns that are too wide.
  • Judgment problems – Whenever you get behind the wheel, you must make a series of decisions while on the road, which means you need to be alert at all times. However, drunk drivers are not as attentive and often take more risks. Common examples include making illegal turns, making unsafe lane changes, and tailgating.
  • Awareness problems – Drivers need to be aware of traffic conditions in order to drive in a careful and safe manner. Yet, intoxicated motorists are not as vigilant while on the road compared to sober drivers. Common examples include ignoring or slowly responding to traffic signs and signals, driving in the wrong direction, or driving in the evening without turning on the headlights.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Rhode Island, contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. at (401) 312-4385 and schedule a free consultation.