Police officers train to investigate DUIs and make DUI arrests using the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) student training manual. No matter how trained officers are, however, they are still human. They can still make mistakes, get things wrong, and exaggerate to make things seem worse than they really are.
The DUI investigation is basically broken down into three parts.
- Manner of driving
- First contact
- Field sobriety tests
Manner of Driving
A typical DUI starts out by an officer observing you drive in such a manner that alerts him that you may be impaired or otherwise distracted to the point that you cannot operate your car safely. Failing to maintain the lane of travel and speeding are two of the most common. Once the officer gives the stop command (turns the emergency lights on), they observe how you react and how you stop.
- Did you stop immediately?
- Did you continue driving?
- Did you pull over safely in a safe area?
Next, they approach your window to speak with you. At this first contact, they’re looking for anything that may give them any clue that you may be under the influence of alcohol:
- Your manner of speech
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- The smell of alcohol coming from the car
- Whether your eyes are bloodshot and watery
- How quickly you’re able to understand and comply with their requests
If the officer observes anything suspicious he / she will ask you to exit the car and continue to take note of any signs of intoxication. For example:
- How you get out of the car
- How you are dressed
- If you are unsteady on your feet
- Whether you are leaning on the car to help your balance
Field Sobriety Tests
At this point the officer will typically ask you to perform field sobriety tests. Although there are many acts the officer can ask you to perform, there are 3 standard tests that are given:
- The HGN test
- The 9 step heel-to-toe walk-and-turn test
- The one-leg stand.
HGN stands for “horizontal gaze nystagmus.” Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eye caused by the presence of alcohol in the bloodstream. The test is conducted using a stimulus such as a penlight or the officer’s finger. Alcohol is not the only stimuli that causes nystagmus, however. There are approximately more than 40 others.
The 9 step heel-to-toe walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests test your ability to follow instructions and whether or not your coordination has been affected by alcohol.
Based on this “investigation,” the officer will likely find probable cause to arrest you for DUI. If this happens, or has already happened to you or someone you know, you should contact me right away. If the officer took your drivers license
, you need to act fast to avoid an administrative suspension. You only have 10 business days to request a hearing.
Call me today. We’ll talk about the investigation, and how best to proceed with your case. We’ll talk about what your options are and how to resolve your case in the most painless and affordable way.