Did you ever notice that the first question an officer asks at a DUI stop is, “Were you aware…?”
“Ma’am, were you aware that your left taillight is broken?”
“Sir, were you aware that you crossed the center line three times?”
“Were you aware that you are going 20 miles under the speed limit?”
“Were you aware that you are parked in a public fountain?”
Drunk drivers are usually unaware of something, and often unaware of several things, while they drive. Those are the things police notice. And it’s not always the obvious bobbing and weaving. It can be as innocuous as an open window on a cold day, or a too-long wait at the intersection.
It can even be littering.
Recently an officer with the Oro Valley Police Department watched a driver do 45 in a 35 mph zone. He was also driving aggressively, following the vehicle ahead of him too closely. Then the driver chucked a cigarette out a window, and that was enough to warrant a stop. Littering on Arizona roads is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Drunk driving has more severe penalties.
If you’re driving drunk, and an officer stops you, there’s little hope that you’ll be able to wiggle out. The police officer will sniff for an odor of alcohol. He or she will watch your movements, listen to your speech, and ask you a couple of questions that can easily trip you up. If you’re suspected of being under the influence, the next step is a Field Sobriety Test. You’ll also be breathalyzed, and the result of these tests will determine if you’re hauled down to the station.
In the Oro Valley case, the breath test revealed some alcohol, and the driver got charged with DUI, tailgating…and littering.
Don’t drive drunk. And keep America beautiful.