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DUI Enforcement Problems at Roadside

NCJ Number
Alcohol, Drugs and Driving Volume: 7 Issue: 3-4 Dated: (July-December 1991) Pages: 215-220
M Burns
Date Published
6 pages
The views of traffic officers provide an important perspective on problems associated with roadside enforcement activities; such officers consider their alcohol-related decisions to be most difficult when the suspect is an alcohol-tolerant individual who displays few behavioral symptoms of impairment.
Roadside activities constitute a significant component of alcohol enforcement. Although the arrest of individuals who display stereotypical signs of drunkenness can be difficult, recognizing their impairment is not. Officers can readily observe such signs as impaired balance and gait, slurred speech, and confusion about time and place. The most obvious solution to the problem of identifying tolerant drinkers is a preliminary breath test. Breath testers provide reliable measurements, even though their use has not been universally approved. Field sobriety tests do not always accurately identify impaired individuals except at high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC's). When a crash occurs and the officer suspects the driver is impaired by alcohol, the officer may encounter difficulties in conducting an on-the-scene investigation. Traffic officers generally believe that the principal source of roadside difficulties is the impaired driver who does not appear visibly intoxicated. The trend toward reducing the statutory BAC limit from 0.10 to 0.08 percent is discussed, as well as impairment by drugs or alcohol-drug combinations. 14 references and 1 table