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What signs of impairment do police look for?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2022 | Drunk Driving Defense

You know that the police generally need to have some sort of a reason to pull your vehicle over. There are exceptions to this rule, such as a sobriety checkpoint, but they are rare. As a general rule, the police need to look for signs of impairment or other reasons to pull vehicles over, and they cannot conduct random stops.

Assuming that the officer is trying to determine if a driver is impaired in advance, what types of signs and symptoms are they going to look for? How do they make this decision? This process is very important to understand because it can impact your legal rights, especially if you believe that the officer did not have a reason to pull you over.

What impairment does behind the wheel

First off, remember that alcohol can impair three different key areas. The first is muscle coordination, the second is reasoning and the third is just general thinking and cognitive function. The amount of alcohol someone has consumed determines, to some degree, how great this impairment will be.

With that in mind, some of the signs that police look for are clearly related to reasoning and cognitive issues. For instance, a driver who is driving well below the speed limit or who doesn’t drive when the light turns green may be so impaired that they are simply not processing what’s happening around them. Even if their vehicle isn’t moving, this can be evidence of impaired cognitive function.

In other cases, drivers are able to focus well enough to continue driving, but they make physical errors because of the way that alcohol impacts their motor skills. An example of this could be when someone swerves back-and-forth on the road, when they make excessively wide turns or when they have a near miss and almost cause a car accident. They may be able to react at the last second to avoid it, but it’s clear that they are not as fully in control of the vehicle as they should be.

Have you been arrested?

You certainly can be arrested by an officer who believes you’re impaired, even when you didn’t present any of these signs and even if you haven’t been drinking. Officers do make mistakes and things like field sobriety tests and breath tests are not always reliable. Make sure you know what legal defense options you have.

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