DUI FAQ: The Scene Of Your DUI — What Are Police Officers Looking For?
So you have been pulled over for DUI. Now is the time to think carefully and methodically and not fumble your every move. Hopefully, you were wise enough to have your driver’s license and registration in an easily-accessible location in your vehicle. You have managed to produce these documents as requested without too much trouble and the police officer is now in possession of your license and registration. But what other signs of intoxication will the officer be on the lookout for? Any visual signs of impairment or intoxication will become part of the officer’s report so it is important for you to know what the officer has been trained at the police academy to look out for.
• Slurred speech is one of the first things an officer may notice while you are detained at the scene of a DUI. Alcohol slows down our brain activity and disrupts our motor control while restricting blood flow to the muscles. It also lowers our inhibitions which makes us careless about our enunciation. If you are pulled over for a DUI, it is important to speak as clearly as possible.
• If you reek of alcohol, this is a sure sign to a police officer that you have been drinking. When we consume alcoholic beverages, the alcohol isn’t digested like most foods and beverages we consume. Your body absorbs alcohol quickly but it also recognizes alcohol as a toxin so your liver kicks into gear to metabolize the alcohol. Your liver isn’t capable of metabolizing the alcohol all at once, and during that period of time that your liver is working hard to metabolize the alcohol, the alcohol is in your blood, your brain and also your lungs. The presence of the alcohol in your lungs that is waiting to be metabolized by your liver is the cause of the “alcohol breath.”
• If your face is beet red, it may be a tip off for police. Again, why your face may turn red when you drink is all about the way your body metabolizes the alcohol. When you consume alcohol, your blood pressure goes up your body breaks the alcohol down into a compound called acetaldehyde. When your body cannot metabolize acetaldehyde, the blood capillaries in your face dilate which turns your face red.
• The same goes for bloodshot, watery or glassy eyes.
• If the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, you can be sure they are watching you for signs of instability, or stumbling when you exit your vehicle, including the need to lean on your vehicle for support, or swaying and not being able to keep your balance while walking.
• If your clothes look dirty or disheveled or you look like you haven’t showered for days, this may lead the officer to draw conclusions about your state of mind and your condition.
• The officer will also be looking at your ability to respond and answer the officer’s questions. If you don’t seem to understand the questions being asked or if you seem disoriented as if you’re not sure where you are or how you got there, you can count on the officer including those observations in their report. On the other hand, they will be looking for extreme behaviors such as aggression or joviality.
Again, if you visually display any of the above, and are unable to perform well in a field sobriety test, you can be assured that the police officer will use all of the above signs of impairment in their report. At the very minimum and in almost every DUI report, the officer will list that your breath smelled of alcohol, that your eyes were bloodshot and/or glassy and that your speech was slurred. All of this can be used against you in a DUI trial.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to have a skilled attorney on your side. Whether you’ve had multiple DUIs or this is your first offense, hiring an attorney can sometimes mean the difference between having the court impose its maximum penalty on you or having your charges dropped or reduced. Contact the Misdemeanor Clinic today, because we know that Good People Can Have Bad Days!