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How do police determine if a driver is drunk?

Police use a variety of methodologies to spot potentially drunk drivers. Learning what police look for might help you avoid an inappropriate DUI. In fact, many drivers in Wisconsin have been arrested and charged with DUI because they made some simple and relatively harmless mistake on the road. If you're sober, and you know what to avoid, it should be fairly easy to prevent making the following errors by mistake:

  • Driving in an unpredictable and or erratic way: Drivers who are intoxicated tend to operate their vehicles erratically. They might cross the centerline suddenly without warning. They might speed up and slow down for no reason at all. They could be piloting their vehicles in other strange ways that call attention to the vehicle and driver. As long as you're driving close to the speed limit, and you're maintaining your speed and your lane in a steady way, you should be able to avoid the risk of getting falsely accused of a DUI.
  • Being overly nervous during a field sobriety test: Stay calm and respectful during your field sobriety test, and remember to breathe. It's easy to get nervous when police are administering a field sobriety test. However, that nervousness -- if it's extreme enough -- could cause police to think you're intoxicated, so be sure to stay as calm as you can.
  • Failing to pass your Breathalyzer test: No sober driver should ever fail a Breathalyzer test, but it does happen from time to time. Ultimately, there's nothing you can do to pass or fail this test. Just blow if you haven't been drinking, your test results should reflect that. If you aren't intoxicated, but the breath test shows that you are, you might be able to challenge the accuracy of test results in court at a later time.

Being falsely accused of drunk driving is not the end of the world. You will have the right to defend yourself against the charges in court; and, if you're innocent of the charges, the prosecution should not be able to convict you of a crime you didn't commit.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Traffic Stop FAQ," accessed Jan. 05, 2018

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