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How police determine if a driver is intoxicated

Residents of South Carolina may be interested in learning about the methods law enforcement officials utilize to detect if a driver might be under the influence. Police generally employ three techniques during a confrontation with a suspected drunk driver.

The first way a police officer can tell that a driver may be intoxicated involves the person driving abnormally or breaking traffic laws. The officer usually requests that such drivers to pull to the side of the road for further questioning. In some cases, the officer might simply issue a warning or a citation and release the driver if he or she offers a valid reason for the poor behavior. During the stop, however, the officer may look for signs of intoxication, such as blurred eyes or an alcohol smell.

If police suspects that a driver might be intoxicated, the driver will be requested to perform field sobriety tests involving walking and speaking. Officers may also check if the driver has dilated pupils. If the officer suspects that the person is drunk, the driver may be asked to undergo chemical testing.

Chemical testing might render a clearer picture of the amount of alcohol the driver has consumed. The tests are done via a sample of the driver's urine, blood or breath. The blood test is fairly accurate and reveals how much alcohol is in the driver's system by determining his or her blood alcohol content level. Testing done with either a breath or urine sample also determines the person's blood alcohol content, but through a mathematical principle. In most states, people will face drunk driving charges if their blood alcohol level is .08 percent or more.

Many people who are charged with driving under the influence work with a criminal defense attorney who may try to provide a defense against the allegations. By challenging the Breathalyzer test or the accuracy of a field sobriety test, for example, the attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed or arrange a plea deal that results in lesser charges.

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