What Do Police Officers Look For When Searching For Drunk Drivers?

by Aaron Black • December 30, 2011

The police look for approximately 20 different signs of impaired driving in addition to many other civil driving infractions when patrolling for drunk drivers.

Many police officers sit in bar parking lots. They know people leaving the bar are intoxicated, but they cannot just pull someone over based on a hunch. They need to see a traffic violation first. Many police will just wait for someone to turn out of the parking lot without signaling, have a cracked windshield, or a burnt out license plate light.

Most DUI arrests occur at night or on the weekends. Below is a list of factors, in order of probability, that police use to determine if a person is driving while impaired at night. This list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Here are the top 20 things police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers:

  1. Turning with a wide radius
  2. Straddling the center of the lane marker
  3. "Appearing to be drunk"
  4. Almost striking an object
  5. Weaving
  6. Driving on other than designated highway
  7. Swerving
  8. Speed more than 10mph below the speed limit
  9. Stopping for no reason in traffic
  10. Following too closely
  11. Drifting
  12. Tires on lane marker
  13. Erratic Braking
  14. Driving into oncoming traffic
  15. Inconsistent signaling
  16. Slow response to traffic signals
  17. Stopping inappropriately 
  18. Turning abruptly or illegally
  19. Accelerating of Decelerating rapidly
  20. No headlights

Something to note is that speeding is not a sign of impaired driving identified by NHTSA. However, many prosecutors argue speeding occurred because alcohol consumption diminished the person's judgment and increased their risk taking behavior. Most police officers will easily admit sober people regularly drive 10 mph over the speed limit late at night in light traffic.

If you have been stopped for DUI based on one or more of the outlined factors listed above contact Phoenix DUI Defense Attorney Aaron Back for a free case evaluation 480-729-1683.

About the Author

Aaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes and white-collar crime.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.
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