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How Police Identify Drivers for DUI Stops

Posted on in Traffic Offenses

How Police Identify Drivers for DUI StopsPolice officers are always on the lookout for drunk drivers, but they must have reason to believe that a driver may be impaired before pulling him or her over on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, there is a wide range of driving behavior that can justify a DUI stop. As a driver, your innocent mistake may raise an officer’s suspicion. Even if you are sober, a DUI stop is risky because a misunderstanding may lead to erroneous charges.

Reasons for Stops

Police have enough justification to stop you if you have committed a traffic violation or are driving in a way that is a nuisance to other drivers. What may make them suspect a DUI is the nature of your infraction, the time of day and your proximity to establishments serving alcohol. Suspicious driving behavior may include:

  • Weaving within or between lanes;
  • Speeding or driving too slow;
  • Peeling out after a stop;
  • Slow reactions; and
  • Not using lights or signals.

Any of these behaviors could be a sign that you are intoxicated. However, they can also be explained by factors that do not involve drugs or alcohol. The reason matters because traffic violations are less serious than DUI charges.


Police are not allowed to stop you on suspicion of DUI because they witness circumstantial evidence, such as seeing you: 

  • Leave from a bar; 
  • Behave in an unusual manner before entering your car; or 
  • Take a sip of an unidentified beverage while driving. 

Your driving must show signs of possible impairment in order for the police to have reason to pull you over. However, their earlier observations of you may draw closer attention to your driving. An officer may be scrutinizing your driving more than usual, waiting for you to make a mistake in order to have justification to pull you over.

Jumping to Conclusions

Once you have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the officer will be looking for signs that you are intoxicated in his or her interaction with you. With that frame of reference, the officer may prematurely conclude that your behavior and appearance are symptoms of intoxication. Once an officer has it in his or her mind that you are drunk, a DUI arrest and charges may be difficult to avoid. However, being tired, sick or distracted are different than being intoxicated. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can defend you against unfair DUI charges. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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