How Houston Police Spot Drunk Drivers

Houston’s police officers are trained to look for certain signs that might indicate a person is driving while intoxicated. Some indicators are rather obvious, such as if a driver hits an object or drives through a red light, while others may be subtler.

Houston Police - DWI Enforcement

Wide or Sharp Turns

Properly executing a turn requires quite a bit of coordination, which consuming alcohol will decrease. Police officers look for people who turn sharply or too wide. Of course, a person’s ability to turn can also be affected by other issues, like not being familiar with the road or if it is dark out. Importantly, the turn does not need to be illegal.


A person who drives after drinking may attempt to avoid getting pulled over by driving very slowly. But, doing this may raise the suspicion of the police. It is also readily noticeable if other cars at a fast rate are passing you; don’t be the slowest car on the road. While slow driving may not be overly alarming (and in most cases, not illegal), it may cause the officer to monitor a person’s driving more closely. Once an officer begins examining a person’s driving very closely, any small mistake may lead to being stopped.

Driving very fast can also be an indication that a person has been drinking, although it is not a clue per the DWI Detection Manual, published by the National Traffic and Safety Administration. People who have been drinking tend to attempt to drive more carefully than they ordinarily would. But, it is possible that a person who has been drinking will have a difficult time controlling how fast they are going. This may lead to the person driving faster than they intended.

Additionally, people who are driving after drinking may miss speed limit signs, resulting in accidentally driving too fast. Of course, driving over the speed limit is illegal in itself, which would give reason for an officer to make a stop, even if the officer does not suspect you have been drinking.

The inability to control the speed of the vehicle may lead to excessive braking, which is another sign of drunk driving. An impaired or drunk driver may also have slow reactions to traffic signs or signals. Reacting very slowly to items like a stop sign or traffic light will raise the suspicion of an officer. It is important to note that it could be reacting slowly to a red light and almost driving through it or sitting at a green light. Both will alert the officer to potential impaired or drunk driving.

Not Staying in Lane

Not driving in a lane or driving on the wrong side of the road are fairly obvious indicators of possible drunk driving. But, there are also subtle indications like if you are weaving or drifting back and forth. Making erratic lane changes will also raise suspicion.

The reality is that all bad driving facts will be used by the officer to justify both his stop and arrest decision. Any time you are driving, especially at night and absolutely after any consumption of alcohol it is imperative that you follow all driving laws. Also it might not be in your best interest to text or use your smart phone under these same conditions!

DWI Defense Law Firm

The best choice is to never drink and drive. But, mistakes happen. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates we understand this. Making a mistake does not mean that you should be without defense. Contact us today and let us put our experience and expertise to use helping you defend your rights.

How Houston Police Spot Drunk Drivers