What Physical and Behavioral Symptoms an Officer Looks for When He First Pulls You Over

25118Tennessee law enforcement officers are always watching for signs of an impaired driver. Sometimes they have an entire task force out doing nothing but looking for impaired drivers on the state’s roadways. Sometimes, staying away from alcohol isn’t enough to avoid being pulled over on suspicion of drinking and driving because all the police have to go on are the signs and behaviors they observe before pulling over a vehicle. It may be helpful then to know what physical and behavioral symptoms an officer looks for when he first pulls you over. The following are common driving behaviors that are likely to make an officer suspect you are driving under the influence:

  • Speeding or driving very slow
  • Weaving in and out of his/her lane
  • Forgetting to turn lights in/off
  • Failing to signal
  • Straddling the center line
  • Taking very wide turns
  • Following too closely – tailgating
  • Braking without a reason
  • Striking, or almost striking, an object
  • Stopping without a reason

Once you have been pulled over, the officer will conduct a brief investigation to try and confirm his/her original suspicions. While talking to you, the officer will be looking for additional signs and symptoms that you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Some of the signs and symptoms they are trained to look for include:

  • Rumpled clothing or a disheveled appearance
  • Glassy or bloodshot eyes
  • The smell of alcohol
  • The smell of air freshener
  • Empty beer/alcohol bottles
  • Slurred speech
  • Fumbling with keys or when looking for documents
  • Nervous
  • Inconsistent response to questions
  • Inability to follow directions or answer questions

Many of these symptoms and behaviors can, and often do, have explanations that have nothing to do with a driver being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver who is distracted or tired will often exhibit many of the same driving behaviors as a driver who is under the influence. Likewise, a tired or nervous driver who has never been pulled over before may exhibit many of the same symptoms during questioning that an impaired driver will exhibit. Whenever possible, however, it is best to try and avoid exhibiting any of these symptoms and driving behaviors as it may prevent you from being pulled over and have to waste time convincing an officer you are not impaired. If you have been drinking, the best course of action is to not get behind the wheel; however, if you do drive after having a drink or two it is in your best interest to pay attention to your driving behaviors to avoid being pulled over.

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Dinah Michael