Written by attorney Jason Chase Beahm

Drunk Driving: Behavioral and Physical Signs (What the Police Look for after a California DUI Stop)

  • Alcohol or the smell of alcoholic beverages or marijuana on your breath. (Tip: even if you have a prescription for marijuana, you can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs (

  • Soiled, sweaty, rumpled, disorderly clothing (the sort of clothes one is wearing on the way home from a concert or festival, for example).

  • Stumbling or other difficulty when exiting the vehicle; leaning against the vehicle for support after exiting.

  • Inability to comprehend the officer's questions and/or follow directions. (Tip: much of the sobriety tests are simply about whether or not you listen to and follow what the police officer is asking you to do. Even asking them to repeat a question is likely to be held against you).

  • A red or flushed face.

  • Glassy, red, watery, or bloodshot eyes.

  • Mumbling, rambling, incoherent, slurred, repetitive or confusing speech.

  • Fumbling or struggling to retrieve your license from your wallet, or registration and insurance from your glove compartment. (Tip: always have your documents neatly organized. Appearances matter--it pays to look professional).

  • Being aggressive, argumentative, or otherwise "difficult." (Tip: many officers will consider your behavior "difficult" even if you ask a simple questions such as, "do I have to take this test?")

  • Stumblling, tripping or otherwise displaying the inability to keep your balance while walking.

  • Confusion as to the date, time, current location, where you are coming from, or where you are going. (Tip: always know where you are coming from and where you are going. You don't have to answer such questions, but if you do answer, and it doesn't make sense, the police are going to be extremely suspicious of you).

Additional resources provided by the author

You have the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. It is almost always in your best interest to do so. When you are stopped by police, they are not there to make polite conversation and become your friend. They are collecting evidence to build a case against you.

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