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What do the police see when watching a drunken driver?

Everyone has experienced some version of it: you and your friends witness the very same event at the very same time, but when retelling the story, you find variations in the way you and others perceived event details. It's an experience that can give insight into the way you process information a bit differently than your friends do.

When an impaired driver is on the road, he, too, processes information differently than a sober observer will. If the sober observer is a cop, the results of the observations can lead to charges of DUI.

So what do police see when watching an impaired person driving? One police officer far from Denver explained how she teaches new department recruits to recognize the signs of drivers who have consumed alcohol, drugs or both.

The signs she tells recruits to look for in possible impaired drivers include the following:

  • Straddling the center line of the street
  • Failure to maintain their lane
  • Swerve off of the road or into a curb
  • When turning, the maneuver is jerky, too wide or is illegal
  • Following too closely behind another vehicle
  • Sitting at green lights too long
  • Taking driving risks (cutting ahead of other vehicles; stopping suddenly; turning in front of other vehicles)
  • Sitting with their face close to the windshield; slouching; yelling at other drivers
  • Driving the wrong way
  • Completely stopping in the middle of a street
  • Being asleep behind the wheel of a parked, sometimes idling vehicle

Not all of these events are indications of impairment, however. Sometimes officers confuse an innocent mistake with a sign of drunkenness or impairment. An attorney experienced in DUI defense can help make your case to a court and at DMV hearings.

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