How Washington Police Officers Detect Impairment from Contact

By Garth O'Brien | November 6, 2009 
Filed Under Seattle DUI

Once a Washington police officer has pulled you over they are trained to make certain observations relevant for a DUI arrest while directly interacting with the driver. The initial contact is critical for the driver and the police officer. Based upon certain observations the driver might be heading to the police station instead of continuing on their way home. The police officer is trained to detect any of the following visual evidence:

1. Bloodshot eyes;
2. Watery eyes;
3. Glassy eyes;
4. Soiled clothing such as spilled drink markings or vomit;
5. Disheveled clothing such as untucked shirts or loosened ties;
6. Flushed face;
7. Bruises, bumps or scratches;
8. Failure to locate driver license, insurance or vehicle registration form;
9. Fumbling of driver’s license, insurance or vehicle registration form;
10. Alcohol containers;
11. Drug paraphernalia or drugs; and
12. Any unusual actions.

The police officer will also use their sense of hearing to detect:

1. Slurred speech or thick tongue speech;
2. Overly loud speech;
3. Repetitive speech;
4. Fast speech;
5. Abusive language;
6. Admissions to consuming intoxicants, alcohol or drugs;
7. Any unusual statements; and
8. Inconsistent statements.

Finally the officer will use their sense of smell. An odor of intoxicants or drug consumption can be easy to smell the second the driver rolls down the driver side window.

If the police officer observes enough of this evidence the driver will be asked to submit to voluntary field sobriety tests and will be asked to provide a breath sample for a portable breath test.

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