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Indicators police look for when they suspect you're driving drunk

Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can be scary. As if having to spend a night in jail to sober up were not scary enough, not knowing what implications the charges are going to have on your job, ability to adequately take care of your family and handle everyday routine tasks can be even more frustrating. While there are some differences as to how states handle DUI charges, there are some generalities as well.

Any blood alcohol content (BAC) that registers at or above .08 percent can result in DUI charges in most states. The only exception to this rule is for those who have yet to reach the the legal drinking age of 21. Most states consider those individuals who have a BAC of .01 to .02 percent to be driving drunk.

While you may understand which BAC level constitutes intoxication in the eyes of the law, you might also wonder how officers determine that an individual is worthy of pulling over on suspicion of drunk driving in the first place.

In the absence of a DUI checkpoint, police officers rely heavily on tracking those who appear to be driving their cars erratically. A driver who consistently swerves, fails to stop or yield to another's right of way or someone who either drives much faster or slower than the posted speed limit tend to raise red flags the most. Also, once they've stopped you, they look for indicators that you're intoxicated such as heavy scent of alcohol on the driver's breath or signs that the driver is experiencing blurred vision.

When these indicators are present, officers will ask questions about your alcohol consumption in the past few hours. They may also ask you to complete a number of field sobriety tests. This type testing might include you having to stand in place on one leg, speaking out loud or walking in a straight line.

It's only if you fail these simple tests that an officer might subject you to a BAC test. Refusing this test will invoke the implied consent law, an act that will result in your license being automatically suspended.

Now that you understand what initially resulted in your stop and what is required to substantiate the filing of DUI charges, you'll want to consult with a Fairfax criminal defense attorney to help defend yourself against them.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Traffic Stop FAQs," accessed May 26, 2017

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

criminal defense & Social security disability law

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