Even if you only drive once in awhile, it’s pretty easy to spot people who aren’t driving the way they are supposed to. Speeding, weaving, slamming on the brakes: these can all be signs of drunk driving, but they aren’t the only signs a police officer is looking for when he monitors traffic and stops a suspected drunk driver.
Here’s a brief overview of how the RCMP watch for and assess a drunk driver:
Erratic driving is the number one tip off that someone is driving drunk. If you happen to drive past a police car or someone else spots you driving too slowly for the speed limit, weaving in and out of your lane, speeding, or slamming on the brakes, any police officer in the area will turn on his or her lights and ask you to pull over.
Signs of impairment
RCMP are looking for signs of impairment from the minute he or she approaches the vehicle and you open your window. They are trained to detect the scent of alcohol and they will check and see if your eyes are glassy. When they engage you in conversation, they are checking the timing of your responses, and even if you aren’t drunk or under the influence of drugs, they’ll be noticing whether or not you evade eye contact.
The next step: field sobriety test
If the RCMP officer has assessed you, you’re showing signs of drunk driving, and he or she suspects you of it, that officer will ask you to take a field sobriety test. You might be asked to walk in a straight line, recite the alphabet, or stand on one leg.
Once a police officer has gone through all of the steps required to assess someone for impairment, he or she will decide if you need to proceed to a chemical blood, breath, or urine test. In many Canadian provinces if you receive a reading in the warn range of .05 to .08, you’ll receive an immediate driver’s license suspension and you may have your vehicle impounded. If you blow over .08 on a breathalyzer, you’re going to be officially charged with impaired driving.
Even if there are no checkpoints set up, the RCMP is out on the roads patrolling for anyone who shows signs of drunk driving. If you don’t want the next person they stop to be you, just don’t drink before you get behind the wheel.