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What is a Drunk Driving Arrest?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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A drunk driving arrest generally occurs when a police officer suspects that a person has been operating a motor vehicle after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol. In many cases, the accused have conducted themselves in a manner to raise such suspicion. Although a person may spend some time in jail following a drunk driving arrest, it does not mean that he is guilty.

Many driving infractions involve receiving a ticket and being released. Drunk driving is not one of them. People are normally arrested if they have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol and then are caught driving. A drunk driving arrest is generally deemed to be an act of protection to ensure the safety of the individual who is drunk and other members of the public.

Being drunk does not necessarily mean that a person is mentally impaired with alcohol. There is generally a limit set on how much alcohol a person can have in his system if he wants to operate a motor vehicle on public roads. If a person is caught driving with more alcohol in his bloodstream that what is allowed, he is generally considered drunk. This can occur even if the person does not feel intoxicated and is driving normally.

A person who is driving normally may be arrested for drunk driving because he failed a blood alcohol test. This can be done by blowing one’s breath into a machine or by having blood extracted. Such tests can confirm the amount of alcohol that a person has in his system. This may be done at random sobriety checkpoints, or if a person is stopped for another reason and a police officer smells alcohol.

In many cases, however, a drunk driving arrest occurs because a person has conducted himself in such a manner as to raise suspicion. Police commonly regard swerving, aggressive driving, and driving at night without headlights on as suspicious signs. Once they pull drivers over, there may be further indications that increase their suspicions such as poor posture, slurred speech, and incoherence.

Sometimes police officers conduct a series of tests to confirm or dismiss their suspicions. They may ask a person to walk along a line or to recite the alphabet backward. When a person fails these tests, this is when a drunk driving arrest is likely to occur.

When a person is arrested for drunk driving, it is common for him to spend at least one or more nights in jail. This does not mean that he is guilty of the charges against him. He will be given an opportunity to dispute the charges at his trial.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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