Drug and Criminal Defense in San Diego
Free Case Evaluations and 24/7 Availability - Call Today! 619.202.5583

Factors the officer will look at after the stop to arrest for DUI

In my last DUI blog, I discussed factors (cues) law enforcement will look at to determine whether or not to stop someone he or she suspects of DUI. In this blog, I want to address what happens after the stop – that is, the personal contact between the officer and driver.

Personal contact begins, therefore, after a vehicle has been completely stopped. The officer will initially contact the driver, ask some questions, instruct them to exit the vehicle, and make observations before, during, and after the driver exits the vehicle.

Quite often, an officer will think he or she has already developed a strong suspicion that the driver is impaired based on prior observations of the vehicle. However, the law requires them to articulate the facts and circumstances that led to their suspicion. The more facts the officer can gather, the stronger their case for stopping and detaining someone for DUI.

What are some of the cues of impairment the officer will look at in the driver to determine if the DUI stop can now become an investigative detention?

  1. Difficulty exiting the vehicle.
  2. Problems with the vehicle controls
  3. Unable to find requested documents – license, insurance, etc. – or dropping or fumbling them.
  4. Balance or swaying problems.
  5. Slurred speech, repeating the questions or comments of the officer.
  6. Providing incorrect answers to questions.
  7. The smell of alcohol or alcohol containers located in the vehicle.
  8. Slurred speech, blood shot eyes, admissions to drinking, or unusual statements.
  9. Does the driver attempt to mask the smell of their breath – chewing gum, breath mints, etc.
  10. Drugs or drug paraphernalia located in plain view of the vehicle.
  11. An attitude consistent with someone who is under the influence.

Just to be clear, this list is not exhaustive, and none of these cues indicate the person is under the influence and should be arrested for DUI, VC 23152(a)(b).

There can be legitimate reasons to explain these behaviors. For example, there can be medical conditions that can cause a person to appear under the influence of alcohol or drugs: diabetics who have taken an overdose of insulin; diabetics in need of insulin; head injuries; diseases of the nervous system. Or the person could be hearing impaired, have a speech impediment, or simply a poor sense of balance.

Once the officer has made these observations, they may still need additional evidence to arrest the suspect for DUI. If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI, contact my office today. I have 10 years of representing clients accused of DUI, and I provide a free consultation.