What Are the Signs of Intoxication Police Officers Look for When Conducting a DUI Stop?

What Are the Signs of Intoxication Police Officers Look for When Conducting a DUI Stop?

For just about all motorists, glancing in the rearview mirror and seeing the flashing lights right behind you is not a welcome sight under the best of circumstances. If you had a glass of wine (or 2 or 3) or chugged down a couple of beers before you got behind the wheel the sight of flashing lights in the rearview mirror can be downright frightening. If you are seriously intoxicated there is little doubt you are going to jail; however, if you are not obviously drunk, but you have consumed some alcohol, there is a chance you might not be arrested. Knowing what signs of intoxication police officers look for when conducting a stop for driving under the influence, or DUI,  in Tennessee may be helpful.

Although every DUI stop is unique, and every law enforcement officer has his or her own “tells” or “red flags” or “clues” when conducting a DUI stop, there are some common signs that just about every police officer looks for when conducting a DUI traffic stop, including:

  • Eyes – your eyes frequently give away drug or alcohol use. Your eyes tend to become red and bloodshot when you drink alcohol and with the use of certain drugs. More importantly, your pupils may dilate or contract, depending on the type of substance in your system.
  • Speech – officers listen for slurred speech patterns as well as for noticeably slow or fast speech. In addition, forgetting common words is often a giveaway for drug or alcohol use.
  • Clothing – disheveled clothing or clothing that appears to be dirty is often used as an indicator of intoxication. Likewise, being inappropriately dressed for the weather can be a sign of intoxication.
  • Movement – an officer will look at how you move when you reach for your registration or identification. Are your movements smooth and fluid or jerky and uncoordinated? Are you able to easily locate what you are looking for or do you stumble around seemingly lost in your own vehicle?
  • Smell – alcohol has a distinctive smell as does marijuana, crack, and some other drugs. Your clothing, your breath, and the inside of your vehicle may smell like alcohol or drugs, giving the officer probably cause to make an arrest.

If any of the above indicates to law enforcement that you are impaired, then you can expect to be adminstered a field sobriety test (FST) on the roadside.  The United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has created a standard three part standard test procedure, which includes the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk-and-Turn, and One-Leg Stand, which is used by Murfreesboro, Smyrna and La Vergne Police, Rutherford County Sherriff’s and Tennessee Highway Patrol officers to further determine whether you may be impaired.  If the FST indicates you may be impaired, then you will be arrested for DUI and asked to give a blood sample to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Tennessee, 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.

Stan Bennett