What Do Police Look for in DWI Cases?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

August 18, 2017

Being pulled over for driving while intoxicated is terrifying. You may be entirely confident you are sober, yet nervous enough to make mistakes that make you look inebriated. If you make a few too many mistakes, these can add up to an arrest, even if there is no hard evidence of a DWI. That is why it is essential to understand what police are looking for when they pull people over for DWIs and how to not give them what they want. No matter how nervous or scared you are during a traffic stop, if you are courteous and know your rights, you will not give the police anything to use against you.

Unfortunately, sometimes the police are overzealous in looking for drunk drivers and making arrests. If you were charged with a DWI, contact a DWI attorney at Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 right away.

8 Things the Police Look for in DWI Cases

When the police pull you over, they will look for a number of signs of intoxication. This includes observing:

  1. Your Driving. How you were driving is the first thing the police notice and could lead them to suspect you of a DWI. The police probably observed your driving for a few blocks before pulling you over. If you were driving erratically or recklessly, this increases the likelihood of an arrest. However, if you were pulled over for another reason like a broken light, then there may not be an initial suspicion of drunk driving, which could work in your favor.
  2. What’s Inside Your Car. When the police have stopped you for a potential drunk driving, they will glance in cup holders, and the passenger and back seat areas of your vehicle. They will be looking for cans or bottles of beer, wine, or hard liquor. If any containers of alcohol are in plain sight, particularly if they are open or empty, this increases the chance you will be arrested for a DWI.
  3. Your Attitude. No one behaves as calmly and politely while intoxicated as they do when sober, and the police know that. The police will be listening to what you say and observing your mannerisms to see if you are behaving reasonably or oddly.
  4. What You Say. When law enforcement suspects drunk driving, they will ask if you have had anything to drink. If you admit to having any alcohol that day, even if it was a glass of wine at dinner three hours earlier, this can work against you.
  5. How You Say It. Even if you do not admit to drinking or being somewhere with alcohol before driving, the officers want to get you to answer a few questions. This is because they are paying close attention to what you say and how you say it. They will be listening for irregular speech patterns, including slurred speech, speaking very slowly, or talking rapidly. They will also be listening for whether what you say makes sense or is jumbled, random, or meaningless.
  6. The Appearance and Movement of Your Eyes. One of the reasons a police officer may shine a bright light into your face is to get a good look at your eyes. If they are overly red, bloodshot, or glossy this is a sign of inebriation from drugs or alcohol. They may also ask you to submit to a standardized field sobriety test called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. During this test, you are to look at the end of a moving object and follow it horizontally with your eyes without turning your head. The police are looking to see if your eyes make involuntary jerking motions.
  7. Your Physical Capabilities. If there are enough signs that you may have been drinking, the police will ask you to get out of the vehicle. This will be to observe your coordination or whether you have difficulty taking off your seat belt, unlocking your door, opening your door, getting out of the vehicle, and standing up straight. You may be asked to submit to other physical field sobriety tests, which are also used to observe your balance and coordination. However, in North Carolina, you can refuse to perform any field sobriety test, but this refusal is not without risk because if enough evidence exists, an officer can justify further investigation or your submission to a chemical or breath test.
  8. Your BAC. One of the ways police will decide to arrest you for a DWI or not is to have you perform a roadside breath test. If you blow close to a .08 percent or higher, you will likely be arrested, whether or not the police witnessed any other factors.

Contact a DWI Attorney Today

If you or a loved one was arrested for a DWI in North Carolina, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Breeden Law Office. We know exactly what the police were looking for when you were arrested and we know how to counter this evidence in court. We will aggressively fight to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

Call us today at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a consultation.


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