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What Initial Physical and Behavioral Symptoms Do Police Officers Look for During a DUI Stop?

Police officers may identify driving patterns that lead them to believe the driver is intoxicated, so they made that vehicle pull over to investigate. Regardless how your vehicle became part of a DUI stop, these trained police officers are looking for specific behavioral patterns that will give them reasonable cause to proceed with field sobriety testing.

Understanding what initial physical and behavioral symptoms police officers look for during a DUI stop should give you a clear understanding why you were arrested and charged with being intoxicated behind the wheel.

The Smell of Alcohol – Once the officer gets close enough to the vehicle, they will be able to determine if alcohol is involved. Before the officer even speaks with the driver, there may be a strong smell of alcohol emitting from the vehicle that gives the officer reason for concern. While this could be simply the result of a situation where the driver was transporting a person who was drunk or spilled their drink, it does open the door to more investigating. When the officer smells alcohol on the breath of the driver, that is considered reasonable cause to proceed with addition questions.

The Red Flushed Face – Looking closely at the face of the driver, it might appear to be red or flushed during the conversation. There are instances where a driver could simply be embarrassed, under the weather, or reacting to medication, so normally the officer will look to see if there are other physical or behavioral symptoms to corroborate the driver may be intoxicated.

Being Difficult or Aggressive – One behavioral symptom that a police officer will look for during a DUI stop is a driver who is being difficult or aggressive. The officer may be inquiring about the driver’s name, reason for being on the road, or where they are heading, and the driver may lash out in an aggressive manner that gives the officer reasons to believe there is more going on here. When the officer asks the driver a question or instructs them to exit the vehicle for a field sobriety test and the driver becomes argumentative, it gives the officer reason for concern.

Red, Glassy, and Bloodshot Eyes – The reason the officer will shine his flashlight directly into the eyes of the driver during a DUI stop is to see if the eyes indicate the driver is impaired. The officer will be looking for eyes that are bloodshot, glassy, watery, and red. Again, one or all of these symptoms could be an indication of a medical condition, but in conjunction with other behavioral and physical symptoms, give the officer reason to believe the driver has been drinking.

Difficulty Standing Still – The officer may ask the driver to exit the vehicle for a field sobriety test when there is a clear indication the driver is intoxicated. When exiting the vehicle, the police officer will be carefully watching to see if the driver stumbles or has trouble exiting the vehicle. The officer will note if the driver is using the vehicle to lean on to maintain their balance once they have exited the vehicle.

Slurred or Incoherent Speech – Once the officer is able to speak with the driver during the DUI stop, many times they will be able to identify signs of being intoxicated just listening to how the driver speaks. The officer will interact with the driver by way of a number of questions that are designed to get the driver to engage the officer. The officer will become concerned the driver may be drunk when they see the driver mumbling, using confusing speech, being repetitive, rambling on, being incoherent, and using slurred speech.

Failing the Field Test – The officer can ask the driver at the DUI stop to perform a number of physical sobriety tests. The officer will have probable cause to request a blood or alcohol test if the driver is unable to maintain their balance on their own.

Unable to Comprehend Time – The officer will ask the driver during a DUI stop what time it is, what time they began driving, what date it is, and what day of the week it is, all in an effort to determine if the driver has their sense about them.

Your Chicago DUI attorney is well aware of what initial physical and behavioral symptoms police officers look for during a DUI stop and will be in the best position to help dispute the charge. When you believe you did not exhibit any of the symptoms that gave the officer probable cause to proceed with testing, your attorney will be able to review footage from the scene of the arrest and poke holes in the prosecution case.