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How Do Police Officers Identify Intoxicated Driving in Illinois?

Posted by Dominick R. Dolci | May 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

In many DUI cases, everything begins with being pulled over by a law enforcement officer. From that point forward, the situation escalates; the driver may face field sobriety tests, and then a DUI arrest, followed by chemical testing and serious criminal charges. They may face a possible criminal conviction and life-changing consequences.

Today, we would like to discuss what leads to that initial pull over in the first place. What causes a law enforcement officer to pull someone over under suspicion of intoxicated driving? 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a list of visual cues for spotting intoxicated driving, based on an extensive study of thousands of documented DUI cases. Below are some of the most common signs of impaired driving. 

Common / Primary Signs of Intoxicated Driving and/or DUI Driving

The NHTSA Detection Guide lists four categories of cues which may indicate intoxicated driving: 

  1. Issues with Maintaining Proper Lane Position
  2. Problems with Braking and Vehicle Speed
  3. Issues with Vigilance
  4. Issues with Judgment

Below, we will discuss each of these categories in further depth. 

Issues with Maintaining Proper Lane Position

An individual who is driving under the influence may struggle with maintaining normal and steady positions as they move within or between driving lanes. An inconsistency in movements or behavior as they drive within lanes may indicate that something is impairing their driving. Common indicators of issues maintaining proper lane position include: 

  • Weaving through traffic and/or traffic lanes, especially if the weaving is erratic or results in other vehicles or objects being struck in the process
  • Straddling of traffic lines (i.e. having one set of wheels over the center or side lanes)
  • Swerving
  • Abrupt movements/turns
  • Making too wide of turns, or drifting out the boundaries of a turn radius
  • Drifting towards sides of the road

Problems with Braking and Vehicle Speed

When impaired, drivers often struggle to properly judge speed and distance, which can significantly influence the speed of travel and stopping distances. Common indicators of braking and speed issues can include:

  • Driving at a speed which is significantly above or below the posted speed limit
  • Sudden acceleration or deceleration which occurs without a distinctive reason
  • Constant and irregular changes in speed
  • Failure to maintain a consistent speed
  • Stopping at odd angles
  • Stopping with jerky movements 
  • Stopping too quickly
  • Stopping at an irregular distance from the curb

Issues with Vigilance

One common side effect of intoxicated driving is the decline of awareness and vigilance on the road. Impaired drivers may fail to notice the conditions of the road, such as traffic signs, the movements and positions of other vehicles, or the overall condition of the road. Identifiable issues of vigilance may include the following: 

  • Driving in dark conditions without headlights on
  • Using the wrong turn signals or failing to use turn signals
  • Delayed responses to traffic signals
  • Driving in the wrong directions

Issues with Judgment

Intoxication can oftentimes impair judgment and impulse control, leading to driving behaviors which may show difficulty in making sound judgments. Some signs of impaired judgment include: 

  • Unsafe or erratic movement between lanes
  • Taking illegal turns
  • Improper lane usage
  • Aggressive behaviors and road rage
  • Tailgating

Facing a DuPage County DUI? Contact DUI Defense Lawyers Today

Even when armed with all the knowledge and precautions possible, mistakes do happen. Many individuals will face DUI cases in their lifetime. With the right legal actions, they have the opportunity to attain the second chance they deserve. If you or a loved one are facing an Illinois DUI case, you have options. The experienced DUI defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland may be able to help. To schedule your free consultation or to speak with a lawyer, contact our law office at (630) 261-9098.

About the Author

Dominick R. Dolci

Managing Partner Dominick R. Dolci focuses his practice on criminal defense litigation and civil litigation. Dom graduated from John Marshall law school in 1990. He began his legal training in the Cook County States Attorneys Office where he worked at 26th and California. He then transferred ...


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