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Tempe police DUI ride-along: 100 driving cues of impaired drivers

Posted at 9:03 AM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 02:04:35-04

What should you do if you see a suspected DUI driver on the road? Do you know the signs of an impaired motorist? 

ABC15 recently rode with Officer Eric Jensen with the Tempe Police Department’s DUI Squad to learn more about impaired driving patterns. 

Officer Jensen’s primary role is to find drivers who are operating vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Tempe.

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Jensen said he enjoys his role because it is proactive instead of reactive. “I am out here trying to keep something from happening.” 

On this particular weekend (Cinco de Mayo), Tempe police made 67 DUI related traffic stops. 

RELATED: What happens when you get arrested for DUI in Arizona?

Those stops resulted in 12 DUI arrests, plus three drivers who were arrested for DUI involving drugs. 

During our ride-along, officer Jensen was involved in two DUI arrests and stopped about a dozen vehicles.

Most of the stops were for drivers who were seen weaving in and out of their traffic lanes, drifting side to side within the lane, and making an improper turn.

Weaving is just one cue that a driver may be impaired.

Jensen said there are about 100 driving behaviors that could hint that a driver may be impaired. You can read the DWI booklet from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration here.

Some obvious signs that you could be driving near an impaired motorist include: 

- Weaving or swerving within the traffic lane
- Crossing into another lane of traffic
- Jerky driving movements
- Speed variation
- Using the wrong turn signal or no turn signal 
- Driving without lights on

These can also be signs of a distracted driver, which Jensen said is very similar to an impaired driver.

"There's a lot of similar behaviors between a distracted driver and an impaired driver," he said. "So, when I'm behind the vehicle, it may look the same as far as driving behavior goes."

During our ride-along, one driver stopped was arguing with a passenger. Another driver said he was unfamiliar with the area and made an improper right turn.

What should you do if you see an impaired driver? 

Officer Jensen advises motorists to call 911 if they think they see an impaired driver on the road. Officers in the area will respond as safely and quickly as possible. 

If you call 911, be prepared to give exact information: Direction of travel, street names, description of vehicle. The more information you can provide, the easier police can potentially find the vehicle.