Explaining the steps of a DWI

Published 5:01 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

QUESTION: How do I explain DWIs to the new adolescent driver in our family?

ANSWER: Here is the step-by-step DWI arrest process:

1. Officers look for driving conduct clues: weaving, drifting in a curve or speed fluctuations.

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2. Officers stop the vehicle for conduct.

3. During face-to-face contact, officers look for signs of alcohol use: the smell of alcohol, bloodshot/watery eyes, slurred speech, fumbling with license/insurance information, the driver admits having been drinking alcohol.

4. If any of these signs are present, the officer requests the driver to get out of the vehicle.

5. The driver is asked to submit to Standardized Field Sobriety Testing:

•Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus — when a person drinks alcohol, his/her eyes will not move smoothly from side to side; this is a natural phenomenon and cannot be stopped or practiced;

•Walk and Turn — a person is asked to walk, without stopping, nine heel-to-toe steps down a line and back, while watching his/her feet, counting the steps out loud, keeping his/her hands at his/her side;

•One Leg Stand — a person is required to stand with one foot six inches off the ground for 30 seconds, hands at the sides, watching his/her foot and counting out loud.

6. Once impairment is documented, the officer will determine if alcohol is the impairing substance by asking the driver to submit to the preliminary breathalyzer test (zero tolerance if under 21, .08 blood alcohol count is adult violation).

7. The driver is arrested for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated).

8. The vehicle gets towed and the driver is transported to the police/sheriff’s department.

9. The officer invokes the Implied Consent Advisory.

10. After the driver has an opportunity to contact an attorney, the officer requests a test (breath, blood or urine).

11. After the driver is tested, he/she is released or booked into jail. Depending on the degree of DWI, drivers may or may not post bail and sign a promise to appear in Court. Most jails (but not all) make sure the person blows 0.00 alcohol concentration before he/she is released. These policies will vary length of stay. The minimum stay is around 4 hours.

12. The driver’s first court appearance is usually within two weeks. The trial will occur two — four months later.

Parents also have the right to rescind an adolescent’s driver license by writing to the State’s Driver’s License Bureau and they have the right to request that the adolescent have his/her driver’s license re-instated at a later date.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. REMEMBER: OVER THE LIMIT/UNDER ARREST. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org