DWI Impairment Clues in NC DWI Cases

There are numerous DWI clues used by police officer to pull people over for drunk driving. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has created a list of clues.

Prestop Clues

They include, but are not limited to:

  • Wide radius turns
  • Almost striking a vehicle or object
  • Speed 10 miles below speed limit (or lower)
  • Following too closely
  • Erratic braking
  • Drifting
  • Accelerating or decelerating for no apparent reason
  • Headlights turned off (at night)
  • Slow to respond to officer’s lights and siren
  • Following too closely
  • Driving on other than the designated roadway
  • Driving the wrong direction on a one way street
  • Delayed response to traffic signals (i.e. sitting still at green light)

Speeding is not listed as a clue of impairment. However, even though it is not listed as a clue, it still gets people in trouble for DWI on a regular basis. This is what happens: An officer will notice a speeder and pull them over to write them a speeding ticket. When the officer comes up to the window, they notice other DWI clues that convince them to transition into a DWI investigation. One of these includes the scent of alcohol on the breath of the stopped driver. So often we see the pattern of a stop for speeding- after which the officer sees red watery eyes and smells alcohol on the breath of the stopped driver. This is enough to ask the driver to exit the car and perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.

Here is a list of some of the post-stop clues which can cause an officer to transition a normal traffic stop into a DWI stop, or that can further confirm the pre-stop clues.

Poststop Clues

  • Fumbling with license and/or registration
  • Difficulty with vehicle controls
  • Difficulty exiting the vehicle
  • Repeating questions or comments
  • Slurred speech
  • Providing incorrect answers or changing answers
  • Balance issues, swaying
  • Leaning on vehicle or any other object
  • Smell of alcoholic beverage from driver

There are other DWI clues that an officer can use to pull you over. Honestly, the police officer can use any bad driving to pull you over. The officer can use the smell of alcohol and red watery eyes to transition to a DWI investigation. Once they get you out of the car, they may notate that you had trouble getting out of the car, and that you were unstable on your feet. With this evidence, they have enough to ask you to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Ultimately, any bad driving with the smell of alcohol on your breath and red, watery eyes can potentially result in you going to jail.

The takeaway here is that there are many impairment clues that officers can use to justify conducting a DWI investigation. Regardless of the initial reason for a police stop, the officer will switch to a DUI investigation the moment they smell any scent of alcohol. And, if you are on the road after midnight, especially on the weekends, the police are going to presume that you have been drinking and will scrutinize your activity even more closely.  Once at the station, you will be asked to submit to breath testing. Even if you “blow” below 0.08%, you can still expect to be charged and prosecuted. The only effective way to avoid a Monroe DWI arrest is to have no alcohol in your system.