blog DUI What Things Do Police Look for to Find Drunk Drivers?

What Things Do Police Look for to Find Drunk Drivers?

By Colorado Attorney-at-law on November 10, 2022

When blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, actions are impaired, decision-making ability lowers, and behavior becomes unpredictable. BAC levels rise each time a person consumes alcohol. Once a person’s BAC has risen to 0.08%, they may face driving under the influence (DUI) charges; otherwise, they may face driving while ability impaired (DWAI) at 0.05% BAC. Those at +5% will demonstrate signs of impairment, which can look like the following:

  • Driving with broken car parts
  • Nearly hitting other vehicles, property, or people
  • Erratic breaking or unpredictable behaviors
  • Driving off the shoulder of the road
  • Driving with excessive movements
  • Weaving in and out of their lane

Drivers who are pulled over during a traffic stop based on one of the signs above may be asked to do a field sobriety test. In Colorado, field sobriety tests are optional—whereas BAC tests are not. This means there’s a way around the physical test but refusing the breathalyzer or blood test can make you face charges.

Getting charged with a DUI can destroy your life if you’re pulled over for suspicions of driving under any influence. Sometimes, police will pull over drivers wrongly or under misleading circumstances. Defendants can argue against any of the above signs in one of two ways:

  • The officer is mistaking cautious driving for impairment, like stopping at sidewalks to avoid pedestrians.
  • The officer mistakenly perceives the events on the road, like almost hitting something when avoiding something else.

What Field Sobriety Tests Can You Expect?

If pulled over and asked to take a field sobriety test; say no. If you do the test but have a special circumstance, you can be wrongfully arrested and charged with a DUI. There are three categories an officer will test:

Follow the Finger Test

Nystagmus is a condition that causes the eyes to shutter horizontally. Police will tell you to follow their finger or pen in a horizontal direction. If they see this shutter, they may arrest you, regardless of the source of the involuntary movement. Stress, exhaustion, and many medications can cause this.


The police officer may tell you to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line before turning on one foot and returning. This test assesses your balance, memory, and fine motor skills. However, many things can go wrong here—having any balancing problem is grounds for arrest.

One-Leg Stand and Count Test

This test is designed to assess memory and balance. Difficulty counting, forgetting instructions, or loss of balance may indicate impairment. Those with neurological disorders, injuries, or incomplete education may receive charges here.

What Charges Could You Face?

If you’re pulled over and charged with a DUI or DWAI, hefty punishments follow. In Summit County, CO, two institutions give out consequences for those suspected of impaired driving: the DMV and the Summit County court system.

As far as the Department of Motor Vehicles is concerned, there is a small window of opportunity to plead your case. Failing to do so will result in license suspensions of nine to 24 months. The Summit County prosecutors will likely push for criminal punishments. These punishments can range drastically, depending on factors like criminal history.

First offenses for a DUI charge can be as high as 180 days in jail and are often paired with $200-$500 fines and one or two days of community service. Conversely, fourth offenses become felonies; that’s two to four years in prison, up to $500,000 in fines, and lasting problems.

The consequences of a DUI or DWAI must be taken seriously, even if the prosecution is encouraging a “good” plea deal. Exercise your rights; speak with an attorney that will fight to give you the best defense for your case. At Whitaker & Penix, LLC, our Summit County DUI attorneys have experience on both sides of the courtroom, giving us the advantage in every case. Protect your future if you’ve been pulled over for a DUI or DWAI. Call us at (970) 368-0602 for a free phone consultation.

Posted in: DUI