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How do officers know when a driver might be drunk?

An important point to consider in all drunk driving cases is the reason the officer pulled the vehicle over. Generally, a police officer must have a valid reason, such as a reasonable suspicion to think that a driver was drunk or a traffic offense, in order to pull a vehicle over. Without a valid reason, the stop might be considered unconstitutional.

What are some reasons why a cop might think a person is driving drunk?

Generally, a person who is drunk will follow some common driving patterns. The driver might be driving in an erratic manner. They might fail to obey traffic signals and signs. Drivers who are drunk might speed or drive much slower than the speed limit. Failing to yield or swerving are also signs that a driver is driving under the influence of something.

How can officers check for sobriety during a traffic stop?

Officers can conduct a field sobriety test to determine if someone is likely under the influence during a traffic stop. This is a standardized test that involves specific tests. If you aren't able to complete the tasks in the test, the officer will probably have you take a breath test or another type of chemical test to determine your blood-alcohol concentration.

Is it possible to decline a chemical test?

You can decline to take a chemical test, but doing so isn't without specific penalties due to implied consent. Implied consent means that you agreed to chemical tests when you got your driver's license. Also, the fact that you refused the test can be used in the prosecution's case against you if you go to trial.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Traffic Stop FAQs," accessed Aug. 25, 2016

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