When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created in the late 1960s, the agency conducted extensive research to provide police officers with scientific and useful information to help them detect drunk drivers on the road.
The following are the four main categories of driving behaviors that typically mean a person is drunk driving:
- Difficulties maintaining proper lane position – Intoxicated drivers have a hard time staying within one driving lane and moving between different lanes. Common examples include swerving, weaving through traffic, drifting to one side of the road, straddling the center line or side of the road, and making turns that are too wide.
- Stopping and speeding problems – Drunk drivers also experience difficulties gaging distance and speed, resulting in problems with acceleration and braking. Common speeding issues include driving at inconsistent speeds or sudden bursts of speed for no reason. Common braking problems include making short and jerky stops, stopping way before an intersection or crossing, and stopping at strange angles.
- Awareness issues – If a motorist doesn’t notice current driving conditions, such as traffic movement and signals, a lack of awareness typically means being impaired by alcohol. Common examples include disobeying or slowly responding to traffic signals, using the wrong turn signal when switching lanes, and driving at night without headlights on.
- Judgment problems – Drunk drivers have a hard time judging many traffic conditions. Common examples include making dangerous lane changes, making illegal turns, and tailgating.
If you avoid making any of these movements while on the road, law enforcement will not make a traffic stop to determine if you are drunk driving.