How Do Police Officers Determine Probable Cause for a DWI?

Law enforcement officers look for several things when determining probable cause for a DWI, both before and after they pull you over. Knowing what these indicators are is crucial to understanding why you’ve been pulled over and what you can do about it.

On the road

When a police officer is watching the road, there are several signs that they look for to determine if someone may be intoxicated behind the wheel. The most important things that they will look for are violation of traffic laws. Swerving your vehicle, stopping without cause, braking erratically, and speeding are just a few things that officers may take to mean that a driver is impaired. Law enforcement may also be on the lookout for cars that follow too closely, turn abruptly or illegally, drive over the lane marker, or almost hit another object or vehicle. If an officer sees any of these things, they have cause to pull the car over and attempt to determine if the driver is intoxicated.

Being pulled over

Once you have been pulled over, the police officer will approach the window and ask questions to try and detect the possible presence of evidence. As the officer is asking questions, they will also be observing the driver for signs of alcohol use and intoxication. The officer will check for several things, such as odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath or in the car, difficulty in understanding or responding to questions, and plain-view presence of alcoholic containers in the vehicle. Law enforcement will also be looking for physical things about the driver, like bloodshot or reddish eyes, a flushed face, and slurred speech, as indicators that alcohol has been consumed. The officer may also ask you to step out of your vehicle in order to perform standardized field sobriety tests.

What to do next

While nobody plans on being pulled over by the police, it is an unfortunate reality for millions of Americans each year. If you have been pulled over and charged with a DWI, Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria can help. The firm’s experienced DWI attorneys earned a top-tier ranking in criminal defense by U.S. New & World Report and are committed to providing the toughest defense possible.

This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.