Law enforcement officers in California are legally allowed to stop drivers who appear to be driving under the influence (DUI). In order to find drunk drivers, officers will examine drivers to see if they exhibit certain behaviors.
You can use this article to review what the police look for as signs of intoxication at a DUI stop in California. Go over physical and behavioral symptoms that may indicate drunk driving with the Simmrin Law Group. You can also get help if you are arrested at a DUI stop by calling us at (310) 896-2723.
Officers Look for Physical Evidence of Intoxication
During a DUI stop in California, police officers will first look for physical signs of intoxication. Alcohol consumption has a number of common effects on people. This means that an officer may believe a driver to be intoxicated if they have:
- Watery eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- A flushed face
However, these physical symptoms are not only caused by alcohol usage. People with allergies or a cold may demonstrate the same symptoms, so police officers often look for other evidence of alcohol impairment.
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Officers Look for Behavioral Evidence of Intoxication
The way a driver acts during a DUI stop in California may be used as evidence that they are intoxicated. Police officers often assume impairment if a driver:
- Is slow to answer questions
- Needs an officer to repeat questions
- Changes their answers or answers questions incorrectly
- Repeats their questions or answers
Note that these are only examples of signs of intoxication for drivers in California. Law enforcement officers often look for additional signs as noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition to the evidence we’ve already discussed, the NHTSA suggests that officers look for drivers who:
- Demonstrate inappropriate behavior, such as starting an argument
- Slur their speech when talking to the officer
- Have difficulty getting out of their vehicle or operating its controls
- Fumble or mishandle their registration and license
- Sway unsteadily when exiting their vehicle
- Lean on freestanding objects or their vehicle
- The smell of alcohol or have an alcohol smell in their vehicle
Officers consider the above signs when focusing on the visual detection of DUI motorists in California. Drivers may be arrested if they demonstrate too many signs of intoxication. Get help quickly from a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles in this situation by calling (310) 896-2723.
Officers Test Drivers to Look for Signs of Intoxication
Drivers who appear intoxicated in California may be subjected to additional testing by a police officer. For example, officers may ask drivers to complete:
- Field sobriety tests (FSTs)
- Chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) tests
Drivers are legally allowed to refuse preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) tests and FSTs in some situations. However, drivers must complete all requested assessments if they are:
- Under 21
- On DUI probation
- Legally arrested
The results of a BAC test or FST can be taken as a sign of intoxication during a DUI stop. For example, if a driver takes a chemical breath test and it reports that their BAC is over the legal limit, an officer can determine that they are intoxicated and arrest them, leading to serious DUI charges in California.
Officers Inspect Vehicles During DUI Stops
In addition to inspecting a driver during a DUI stop, officers often look into an individual’s vehicle. Officers may become more suspicious that a driver is impaired if they spot open containers of alcohol or even empty containers of alcoholic beverages in the vehicle.
Note that carrying an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is illegal in California, even if a driver is not committing a DUI. All alcoholic beverages must be closed, sealed, and full to avoid criminal charges. However, even carrying an unopened container of alcohol could increase the suspension of a police officer, if a driver exhibits other signs of intoxication.
Officers are allowed to thoroughly search a vehicle after making an arrest in California, which can allow them to gather additional evidence of alcohol usage.
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Get Help After a DUI Stop in California
Drivers in California can be arrested if they display too many signs of intoxication at a DUI stop. If you are arrested, it’s important that you get legal help right away from a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles. A legal professional can assess your situation and focus on helping you handle any legal hurdles you face after a DUI arrest. The Simmrin Law Group can begin working on your defense right now with a FREE consultation.
Reach out to us immediately after your arrest by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 896-2723.