“Objective” Signs of Alcohol Intoxication
When speaking with an individual during a traffic stop, a police officer will look for “objective” signs of alcohol intoxication. The following is a description of two signs an officer will look for and an explanation of the weaknesses of these “objective” tests. For more information, contact Orange County DUI attorney Mike Coffey today.
Odor of alcohol
One of the first signs an officer will look for is the odor of alcohol on a driver’s breath. The officer will use any odorous scent to make an initial determination that a driver has been drinking and to establish a legal justification to begin a DUI/DWI investigation.
Despite the common use of this test, it may not be as accurate as its proponents suggest. One study, on the efficacy of detecting alcohol consumption by odor, asked 20 experienced police officers to detect the alcohol odor from 14 subjects with BACs ranging from 0-0.13%. The 14 subjects were placed behind a screen and blew through a 6-inch tube that led directly to a police officer’s nose. The results clearly illustrated that officers were unable to accurately identify the type of beverage consumed (beer, wine, etc.) and that officers’ estimates of odor strength were unrelated to BAC levels. If you were cited for a DUI/DWI based in part on alcohol odor, an Orange County DUI attorney may be able to help.
Another physical indicator an officer will look for is whether the eyes are red, watery or glassy. However, eyes can appear this way either during sobriety or intoxication and it is therefore not an accurate indicator of drunkenness. For example, wind irritation or fatigue can result in red, glassy or watery eyes. Thus, there is simply no correlation between red, watery or glassy eyes and BAC due to this condition’s presence in both the sober and intoxicated.
If you would like to discuss your DUI/DWI case in further detail, contact Mike Coffey, an Orange County DUI attorney.