How Do Police Detect Impaired Drivers? - BST Insurance

July 30, 2018 by Chris Bibey

Even if you are familiar with the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it doesn’t mean you’ll always obey the law.

There may come a point when you find yourself impaired and behind the wheel. While you hope to reach your destination safely and without detection by the police, you know that doing so is easier said than done.

Ontario, as well as almost every other part of the country, has police officers trained specifically in detecting impaired drivers.

If an officer has reason to believe you’re under the influence, he or she will proceed with pulling your vehicle to the side of the road. From there, the officer will use the following to detect if you’re under the influence:

Standardized Field Sobriety Test

Conducting a roadside standardized field sobriety test is often the best way for an officer to better determine if you’re under the influence.

If you fail a standardized field sobriety test it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re under the influence, but it does give the officer reason to continue digging.

Breath Test

If an officer has any reason to believe you have alcohol in your system, he or she can request a breath sample via a Breathalyzer device.

With this device, the officer will soon have a clear idea of your blood alcohol concentration level.

Note: if you fail the test, you can face an immediate licence suspension along with criminal charges.

Drug Recognition Evaluation

If an officer believes your impairment is related to drug use, you may be asked to partake in a drug recognition evaluation at a local police station.

Once again, if you fail, an immediate licence suspension and criminal charges are likely.

Note: thanks to recently proposed legislation, oral fluid screening devices may be used in the future if there is reason to believe a person has drugs in their system. The ability to use the device along with other roadside tests will allow police to act in a more efficient manner.

How to Avoid Impaired Driving

The best way to avoid impaired driving is to never get behind the wheel after using drugs or drinking alcohol. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

•    Always have a plan to get to and from your destination if you have any reason to believe you’ll be drinking alcohol
•    Implement a designated driver system, ensuring that you’re never tempted to get behind the wheel after drinking
•    Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about side effects associated with any over the counter and prescription medications you’re taking

Impaired Driving can Impact Your Auto Insurance

There are many consequences of impaired driving, such as a fine, licence suspension, and the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device.

Also, if you have a conviction on your record, it’s very difficult to find an auto insurance company that’s willing to provide coverage.

With so many potential consequences, it’s best to never mix drug and/or alcohol use and driving.



What are the signs of an impaired driver?

Signs of an impaired driver include swerving between lanes, driving abnormally quickly or slowly, sudden stops and starts, veering into oncoming traffic lanes, and not obeying stop signs/traffic lights.

How do you keep yourself safe from impaired drivers?

You can keep yourself safe from impaired drivers by knowing how to identify one and maintaining a generous following distance. Make sure to follow basic driving precautions such as buckling seat belts and following road hazards.

Should I attempt to pass an impaired driver if I'm driving behind one?

It's better to stay behind the vehicle and follow at a safe distance if the impaired driver is in front of you. Impaired drivers may drive erratically—weaving in their lane, making wide turns, accelerating and decelerating repeatedly, driving on the wrong side of the road, and driving in the dark without headlights.