The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a
study involving interviews by law enforcement authorities and extensive
research to create a list of visual cues for detecting motorists who are
under the influence of alcohol. These visual cues consist of four main
categories of driving behavior, which officers use to determine whether
to pull someone over on suspicion of
The following are the four major categories for drunk driving behavior:
Acceleration and braking problems – Drunk drivers often have a hard time driving at a consistent speed.
Common indicators of speed issues include driving well over the posted
speed limit and suddenly accelerating or decelerating for no valid reason.
Common examples of braking issues include stopping either well before
or beyond an intersection, making short and jerky stops, or stopping at
Judgment difficulties – While you are operating a vehicle, you must constantly make judgments
to protect yourself from breaking the law and injuries. Drunk drivers
often lack alertness, making them more prone to take risks. Judgment problems
include making unsafe lane changes and illegal turns, tailgating, and
driving outside the roadways.
Difficulties staying in a driving lane – Impaired drivers experience problems maintaining adequate lane
position. Common examples of this type of driving behavior include swerving,
weaving, drifting toward one side of the roadway, and making extremely
Awareness issues – Drunk drivers also fail to notice traffic signals, the flow of
traffic, and other traffic conditions. Motorists who lack vigilance and
awareness typically have delayed responses to traffic signals, drive in
the dark without using their headlights, and even drive the wrong way.
When law enforcement notices one or more of these driving behaviors, it
is enough to establish “reasonable suspicion” to make a lawful
traffic stop. When the police officer approaches the vehicle, there are
several signs which indicate intoxication, such as an alcohol odor, poor
motor skills, slurred speech, slow responses to questions, and evidence
of an open container in the vehicle.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Santa Barbara,
contact our experienced legal team at
Appel & Morse today.