In central PA, officers assigned to a “DUI task force” team or similar special traffic enforcement unit will basically pull over any vehicle they see or come in contact with that gives them ANY explainable reason for confronting the driver. These special units typically operate at late hours (typically, 10 PM to 6 AM or 11 PM to 7 AM) and on high DUI days (Wednesday through Sunday, typically) when they know to expect a sizable percentage of drivers (1 or 2 out of 10) to be drinking or using some substance that may impair them.
Aside from DUI roadblocks, or at an accident scene, the first interaction with a police officer usually occurs when questionable driving conduct or some defective item of equipment or an expired tag draws the officer's attention to your car. This tells the officer that the car can be stopped and legally investigated. However, there are a number of cues that police officers use to identify possible alcohol-impaired driving. These criteria were first published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1981 as a list based upon 20 driving cues that they determined were the best for identifying key night-time drunk drivers and setting them apart from normal drivers.
The list of clues or cues, as originally published, is as follows:
Turning with a wide radius
Straddling the Center or Lane Marker Line
Appearing to be drunk
Almost striking another object or car
Driving on other than designated roadway
Slow speed (10 mph or more under the speed limit)
Stopping, without cause, in the traffic lane
Following too closely
Tires on the center or lane marker
Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
Slow response to traffic signals
Stopping inappropriately (other than in traffic lane)
Turning abruptly or illegally
Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
The list applies to cars, trucks and other traditional vehicles. The list for motorcycles is different.
Obviously, everyone has done some of these things, possibly on a daily basis, especially in the era of the smart phone. Also, the most common offense, speeding, is NOT on the list. Basically, ANY driving behavior, vehicle deficiency or activity that looks the slightest bit suspicious will usually result in an officer coming in contact with you, just to see if you display any any of the signs of intoxication.
A careful review of the circumstances surrounding your stop and arrest can be vital to your defense.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in south central PA, contact the Quinlan Law Group today. Consultations are always free and we take pride in helping good people through tough times.