Anatomy Of A DUI: The Exit

Anatomy Of A DUI: The Exit

Stop And Exit After law enforcement has made the decision to perform a traffic stop on your vehicle the investigation really has begun.  Officers are trained at their law enforcement academy to begin observing indications of criminal activity immediately.  Of course, one reason is for officer safety, but between the hours of about 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. officers are always on the lookout for DUI drivers.  In the formal training of officers “Phase 1” of DUI detection has begun...


Stop And Exit

After law enforcement has made the decision to perform a traffic stop on your vehicle the investigation really has begun.  Officers are trained at their law enforcement academy to begin observing indications of criminal activity immediately.  Of course, one reason is for officer safety, but between the hours of about 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. officers are always on the lookout for DUI drivers.  In the formal training of officers “Phase 1” of DUI detection has begun.

Law enforcement takes particular note of the driver’s ability to stop his vehicle and police reports often accentuate the smallest details.  Reports often include details of:

  • Pulling over quickly or a long delay before pulling over;
  • Coming to a stop blocking traffic – no matter how subtle and even on two lane roads or rural roads;
  • Running over a curb or parking too close or too far away from a curb;
  • Failing to signal a turn while pulling over;
  • Taking extra time before placing the vehicle in park or letting vehicle roll any amount after parking;

Again, this list is not exhaustive as law enforcement are trained to record and report any detail as though it is indicative of impaired driving.

After your vehicle comes to a stop an officer continues “Phase 1” by having a conversation about the stop and usually asking for license, insurance and registration.  Officers will lean in close to the car cab to use their sense of smell, will move their flashlight around for sight, and engage in general conversation looking for signs of slurred or irregular speech.  The police report forms issued to law enforcement for DUI documentation include pre-printed lists about speech and coordination.  If you slur your words, speak quickly, or repeat yourself there is a box to check.  If you have a difficult time finding your driver’s license or other paperwork – a check goes in a box.  Every detail is being observed in order to paint the picture of an intoxicated driver in the police report.

The ultimate decision that an officer is tasked with in “Phase 1” of DUI detection is whether to ask, or more often order, the driver to exit the vehicle.  The officer is required to have reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct in order to turn a traffic stop into a criminal investigation, but sometimes an officer will actually expand the stop in order to obtain the requisite suspicion.  As there is a gold mine of observations to be made as a driver exits the vehicle officers are anxious to remove drivers from vehicles.

Some of the most common observations made during the driver’s exit:

  • Driver has difficulty untangling from a seat belt;
  • Has a difficult time standing up from a vehicle, or getting out of a truck;
  • Uses the door or windshield post as a brace or handle, or “for balance;”
  • Used the vehicle to steady herself after exiting;
  • Stumbles as exiting or while walking after exiting;
  • Slow to exit the vehicle; exited the vehicle quickly;

And the list goes on… With the exit order a full-fledged DUI investigation is underway and the officer will continue to gather every detail that could be used to paint the picture that a driver was impaired or under the influence.