DUI Driving Patterns in Los Angeles

driving under the influenceUnder the law, a police officer is not allowed to simply pull over a driver based on an unsubstantiated suspicion that the driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution has been interpreted to require that a law enforcement officer can only stop a vehicle where there is reasonable or probable cause that the driver has violated the law.

Impaired Driving Patterns

The reason for the stop is usually a traffic or equipment violation that the officer has observed. However, officers recognize that certain traffic violations, such as failing to stay in one’s lane of traffic, are more indicative of impaired driving than others. When such driving conduct is observed, officers are more likely to pull over the vehicle and initiate a DUI investigation, especially when this conduct is observed late at night or on weekends when more DUI offenses tend to occur.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has listed the driving conduct that is most closely associated with impaired driving. For each type of driving conduct observed, the NHTSA has calculated the probability of whether the driver is under the influence.

Surprisingly, the driving conduct that the NHTSA study claims is associated with the highest probability of impairment is making wide radius turns. When this is observed, the probability of driver impairment is 65%. The probability of driver impairment is also 65% when vehicles are observed straddling lane dividers or road markers.

Weaving, Swerving and Wide Turns

For drivers who are observed nearly coming into contact with another vehicle or weaving extensively, the likelihood of driver intoxication is 60%. For drivers seen driving off the designated road (such as on a breakdown lane) and for drivers observed swerving, the probability of intoxication is 55%.

When drivers are observed driving under the speed limit by 10 mph or more, have stopped in the middle of traffic without explanation or are seen drifting while driving, the likelihood that the driver is intoxicated is 50%. The odds that a driver is impaired are 45% when that driver tailgates, drives while touching lane markers with his or her tires, brakes erratically or drives in the opposite lane of traffic. Drivers who use their turn signals erratically are 40% more likely to be intoxicated and drivers who turn abruptly or illegally or who stop suddenly are deemed to be 35% more likely to be impaired. Finally, the study found that drivers who suddenly accelerate or decelerate and those who drive without headlights after dark are likely to be intoxicated 30% of the time.

Whenever two of the forms of driving conduct listed above are observed together, the probability of intoxication is 10% higher than the factor with the higher percentage. This would mean that a driver who is observed without headlights after dark (30%) and tailgating (45%) would have a 55% likelihood of impairment according to the NHTSA study.

One factor that is often the basis for DUI stops that has been conspicuously left off this list is speeding. Despite what many law enforcement officers may believe, the NHTSA study shows that speeding is not a factor that is indicative of impaired driving. In fact, many impaired drivers are careful to control their speed in order to avoid being pulled over. Conduct such as swerving or weaving is harder to control while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Merely observing the various forms of driving conduct listed above does not provide justification to arrest a driver for DUI. While the officer may stop the vehicle, that officer would be required to form a reasonable suspicion that the driver was, in fact, intoxicated before conducting an arrest. There may be simple explanations other than drug or alcohol intoxication for the driving conduct listed above, including equipment malfunctions or simply being tired.

If the officer lacked reasonable or probable cause, the driver may be able to challenge the vehicle stop by filing a motion to suppress pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. If successful, the resulting DUI evidence will be suppressed, the prosecution will usually be unable to move forward and the case would be dismissed.

If you have been stopped and cited for a DUI offense, it is crucial that you meet with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how best to defend those charged with DUI offenses.

For more information about DUI driving patterns, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Featured on CNN
ABC News
NBC News
Los Angeles Times
CBS News
The New York Times
Us Weekly
Entertainment Tonight
Good Morning America
Legal Broadcast Network
Avvo Rating 10.0
Client Reviews
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.