What is behind a DUI Traffic Stop? A law enforcement officer must attend and complete some form of police academy. The candidate will learn various law enforcement tactics, self-defense, weapons training, nominal legal training, and more. Every candidate will attend a DUI detection course at these academies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed a DUI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing manual. DUI detection begins with observing an impaired motorist operate their vehicle on the roadways. This training will result in many Washington DUI stops during an officer’s career.
DUI detection training teaches an officer to observe the following clues when a suspect vehicle is in motion:
- A moving violation;
- An equipment violation;
- An expired registration;
- Unusual driving actions, such as varying speeds, weaving or following too closely; or
- Evidence of drinking or drugs inside the vehicle.
At night, police officers detect impaired drivers by observing the following vehicle operation:
- Turning with a wide radius;
- Straddling the center lane divider or fog line;
- Appearing to be impaired;
- Almost causing an accident with another vehicle or striking an object;
- Driving on the shoulder of a roadway or driving entirely off the roadway;
- Swerving abruptly;
- Traveling at a rate of speed 10 M.P.H. below the speed limit;
- Following too closely;
- Tires on lane markers;
- Braking erratically;
- Driving into oncoming traffic;
- Exhibiting a slow response to traffic control devices;
- Signaling inconsistent with driving actions;
- Making an illegal turn or turning abruptly;
- Accelerating or decelerating rapidly;
- Driving without illuminated headlights;
Driving requires divided attention, and divided attention is a form of multitasking. A driver must maintain the proper speed, operate their vehicle within the designated lane of travel, adhere to traffic control devices and pay attention to the actions of other drivers all at the same time. Alcohol and drug consumption will impair the ability to maintain divided attention. The ability to concentrate deteriorates as the alcohol consumption increases.
Police Lights Activated
When the officer observes enough evidence to support a suspicion that an individual is Driving Under the Influence they will initiate a DUI traffic stop. The officer will activate their emergency lights and siren. Once this equipment is activated the officer will continue to observe the vehicle for further evidence of impairment. Before the traffic stop officers look for:
- Attempts to flee;
- No response from the driver;
- A slow or delayed response to the emergency lights and siren;
- An abrupt swerve while pulling over;
- A sudden stop; and
- Striking the curb or other objects while pulling over.
Once the suspect has finally stopped their vehicle the police officer will make contact with the driver. At this point you will need an experienced Seattle drunk driving attorney because the officer is now looking to make a DUI arrest.