Driving Patterns Associated With DUI

What causes certain drivers to get pulled over by DUI officers? What driving patterns make the police suspect a driver may be drunk?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified the 20 most common "driving symptoms" exhibited by drunk drivers. For each symptom, NHTSA offers a numeric probability that the driver displaying this symptom is under the influence.

When multiple symptoms are observed, NHTSA says to add 10% to the highest valued symptom. For example, if the person drives with his headlights off after dark, turns illegally and drives into opposing traffic, the probability he is DUI is 55%.

DUI Driving Symptoms:
  • Turning with a wide radius…65%
  • Straddling center or lane marker…65%
  • Appearing to be drunk…60%
  • Almost striking an object or vehicle…60%
  • Weaving…60%
  • Driving outside the designated roadway…55%
  • Swerving…55%
  • Slow speed (more than 10 mph below the speed limit)…50%
  • Stopping in traffic (without a reason)…50%
  • Drifting…50%
  • Following too closely (tailgating)…45%
  • Driving with tires on center or lane marker…45%
  • Erratic braking…45%
  • Driving into opposing traffic…45%
  • Signaling inconsistently with driving actions…40%
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)…35%
  • Failure to dim high beams when oncoming traffic...35%
  • Turning abruptly or illegally…35%
  • Accelerating or decelerating suddenly…30%
  • Headlights off after dark (Vehicle Code 24250)…30%

*Notice what is not on this list: Speeding. Many DUI cases begin with the driver getting pulled over for speeding (such as violating California's basic speed law- Vehicle Code 22350). Many DUI officers claim that speeding is one of the factors suggesting the driver is drunk. Yet the studies show no substantial correlation between DUI and driving in excess of the speed limit. A speeding driver is no more likely to be drunk than sober.

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If you or a loved one is charged with driving patterns associated with DUI and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.


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