By Erin Gerstenzang

The first phase of DUI detection is vehicle in motion, where the officer makes DUI-related observations before initiating a traffic stop. In many DUI cases, the officer pulls a driver over for Failure to Maintain Lane, but in the video, you see that they used their turn signals appropriately, interacted with other traffic well, and they moved over or changed lanes without issues. Those are all things your defense team should be documenting and taking note of.

The officers are trained to look for specific impaired driving “cues.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sponsored research to identify the most common and reliable initial indicators of DWI. There were 24 cues that were identified as being associated with a high probability that the driver exhibiting the cue is impaired.

They include:

Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position

  • Weaving
  • Weaving across lane line
  • Drifting
  • Straddling a lane line
  • Swerving
  • Almost striking an object or a vehicle
  • Turning with a wide radius

Speed and Braking Problems

  • Stopping problems
  • Unnecessary acceleration or deceleration
  • Varying speed
  • 10 mph or more under the speed limit

Vigilance Problems

  • Driving without headlights at night
  • Failure to signal or inconsistent with action
  • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on one way
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Slow or failure to respond to an officer’s signals
  • Stopping in lane for no apparent reason

Judgment problems

  • Following too closely
  • Improper or unsafe lane change
  • Illegal or improper turn
  • Driving on other than designated roadway
  • Stopping inappropriately in response to officer
  • Inappropriate or unusual behavior
  • Appearing to be impaired
Important Terminology

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion – the amount of evidence required to initiate a traffic stop is much lower than the probable cause required for an arrest.

  • A particularized and objective basis for suspecting that a citizen is involved in criminal activity. This suspicion need not meet the higher standard of probable cause, but it must only be more than mere caprice or a hunch.

Probable Cause – the legal standard of evidence that is required to support an arrest as opposed to what is required to initiate a traffic stop. In Georgia, the officer must have knowledge or reasonably trustworthy information that someone was in control of a moving vehicle, while under the influence to a degree that renders her incapable of driving safely.

DUI Less Safe – the legal standard that applies to all DUI cases, regardless of whether the test result was over or under the legal limit.

  • DUI in Georgia = a Less Safe Driver
  • “A driver or operator of a motor vehicle is under the influence of alcohol when the person is affected by alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive than it would be if the person were not affected by alcohol. A driver who is less safe is less efficient, less skillful, less coherent, less able, less qualified, and less proficient.”

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – standard of proof required to convict someone of DUI at trial.

  • A reasonable doubt is defined by the courts as “a doubt of a fair-minded, impartial juror honestly seeking the truth. It is a doubt based upon common sense and reason. It does not mean a vague or arbitrary doubt, but it is a doubt for which a reason can be given arising from a consideration of the evidence or lack of evidence, a conflict in the evidence, or any combination of these.”