DUI Questions

What signs or cues indicating impairment do law enforcement officers look for in an individual's driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set out the following list of symptoms, in descending order of probability, that indicate the person observed is driving while intoxicated.

  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Straddling centerline or marker
  • "Appearing to be drunk"
  • Almost striking object or vehicle
  • Weaving
  • Driving on other than designated roadway
  • Swerving
  • Speed slower than 10 mph below posted speed limit
  • Stopping without cause in a traffic lane
  • Following too closely
  • Drifting

Other DUI symptoms:

  • Tires on center lane or marker
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  • Slow response to traffic signal
  • Signaling inconsistent with driving action
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in traffic lane)
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  • Headlights off during night driving

After the officer has pulled me over, what symptoms of intoxication is the officer looking for?

Officers are trained to look for certain symptoms or conditions in a person's appearance or demeanor. Some of these conditions are:

  • Flushed or red face
  • Watery, bloodshot, dilated or glassy eyes
  • Odor of alcohol on the breath
  • Slurred, thick-tongued or incoherent speech
  • Stumbling, swaying, needing assistance to stand
  • Antagonistic, combative, sarcastic, profane, insulting, illogical attitude
  • Inability to follow directions
  • Soiled clothing, urinating on self, or vomiting
  • Disoriented as to time and place
  • Inability to retrieve license or other items requested by officer

What should I do if asked to take a field sobriety test?

In most cases, an officer who suspects that you may be impaired will ask you to perform some field tests. Most of these tests are divided attention tests. In other words, the test is designed to test both your ability to understand direction and your physical ability.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that officers use the nine-step walk-and-turn test, and the one leg stand divide attention test. Tests like the finger to the nose test, finger to thumb, and ABC test may be used but do not have the evidentiary value of those approved by NHTSA.

You have no legal requirement to perform a field sobriety test and there is no penalty based upon refusal alone. Most people believe that they can perform these tests better than they really can.

Many people cannot perform these tests on their most sober day. If a person has any physical problems, is fatigued, on medications, or just lacks much coordination, then a quick explanation of this condition to the officer and a respectful refusal will be an appropriate response in most cases.

Arrested for DUI? Call 601-208-0137 for a FREE legal consultation.