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12 Cues Used To Detect Drunk Drivers At Night

Police officers commonly administer field sobriety tests or breath tests on the side of the road in an effort to determine if a driver is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). However, did you know that there are signs and cues that officers look for to predict intoxication before even stopping a driver? There are in fact several specific types of driving behaviors and visual cues that officers look for when making a DUI or DWI vehicle stop.

What Do Officers Look For When Making DWI & DUI Stops?

Over the years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sponsored and contributed to several research projects intended to help officers and other motorists detect impaired drivers on the road. Working with NHTSA, researchers interviewed officers across the country and compiled data on DWI arrests. This research led to the development of data-driven resources and training materials intended to help officers predict blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater through visual cues. According to NHTSA, the driving behaviors that are found to most commonly predict intoxication fall into four categories, which include:

  • Problems in Maintaining Proper Lane Position
  • Speed and Braking Problems
  • Vigilance Problems
  • Judgment Problems

Within these four categories, there are many different driving behaviors and visual cues which officers look for in an effort to predict intoxicated drivers. For example, NHTSA research shows that a vehicle which is seen to be straddling the center of the road or the lane marker at night suggests a 65% chance of Driving While Intoxicated.

The following infographic highlights 12 specific visual cues, contained in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s DWI Detection Guide, which are used to detect drunk drivers at night.

As you can see, there are many visual cues and driving behaviors used by police officers to detect DWI drivers on the road at night. While this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the visual cues used most often used by police officers in determining whether or not a driver is intoxicated. In fact, these and other driving behaviors are often used by officers when making the decision to pull over a vehicle on suspicion of DWI or DUI. That being said, observing one of these visual cues does not guarantee that a driver is driving while intoxicated.

Hopefully this infographic has helped you to better understand some of the typical driving behaviors of suspected DWI drivers on the road. Please feel free to share this infographic with others!

DWI & DUI Drivers Infographic
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