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How can police spot a drink driver?

Individuals may believe that they can conceal their drink driving from the police and general public. However, the police are highly skilled and experienced individuals with a level of intuition that allows them to spot drink drivers.

Manner of driving
People who have been drink driving operate their car very differently to someone who is sober. Some tell-tale signs include driving the car from side to side, driving in and out of white lines and ignoring signals such as red traffic lights. Drunk drivers may also drive over two lanes or simply drive in the centre of the road.

Committing other offences

It is only possible for police officers to breathalyse an individual if they have committed another offence. E.g. having a break light out or speeding. Regardless of if the police believe the individual was over the limit, they have full right to breathalyse the individual.

Questioning the driver
The police officer can question the driver by simply asking whether then have been drinking within the past 24 hours. And in some cases, the likelihood of the driver responding ‘yes’ can be quite high. For example, if it has happened over the weekend. If someone answers yes to this question, the officer is completely obliged to pull out the breathalyser and test the individual.


There is no doubt that intoxicated drivers have a heightened feeling of confidence. This can make them drive over the speed limit. In contrast however, drivers that are driving too slowly can indicate that they are avoiding being caught.

Poorly maintained vehicle

Chances are that if an individual has decided to drive after drinking, they are unlikely to be bothered about what condition their vehicle is in. Police say that many people who drink drive have an accompanying issue with their vehicle. E.g. body damage, lights not working or badly worn tyres. 

Misty windows

Often, individuals that have been drink driving are impatient or so intoxicated that they are unaware that their windows have misted over. And as such, in cold weather when car windows have misted, they are unlikely to fully wipe the glass. Such a phenomenon is known as ‘letterbox windows’.

Lights not working

People that have had a drink, then drive, sometimes forget to put their headlights on. This is because the daylight lamps are already running. And when someone is intoxicated, they may believe that these are the main headlamps. Believing that the may be already on. Intoxicated drivers may also be confused and as such may operate the fog lights instead of regular headlamps. Even when it isn’t foggy.

Erratic breaking and accelerating

Drunk drivers may not have full control over the accelerator or break, operating it in a jerky or erratic manner. They may also be unable to effectively judge distances between vehicles, causing them to break suddenly. As a result, tailgating, or driving too close to unknown objects is also common.

Sudden or illegal turning

As already mentioned, drink driving can cause erratic and unexplained behaviour. And when someone is under the influence, they are less likely to be aware of the rules of the road. Meaning that the actions they take are impaired and dangerous.

Turning in a wide manner
People that have been drinking then driving will have poorer control of the steering. As a result, when they attempt to turn with the steering wheel, the turning will appear wide, as opposed to a sober person who will have better control of the steering wheel.


Drink drivers believe that they can conceal themselves from the police and general public through a range of techniques. In this article, we have outlined techniques drink drivers use to try and disguise their drink driving. These can include:
Driving in an erratic manner
Committing another driving offence
Poorly maintained vehicle
Misty windows
Lights not working properly
Braking and accelerating
Sudden or illegal turning
Turning in a wide manner
It is important to note that no matter how much a drink driver attempts to conceal their impaired driving, the police are highly skilled and experienced with intuition that tells them that something is wrong.

Are you worried that you, a friend or family member are at risk of a drink driving offence in the future?

The only way that you can be sure that you are safe to drive after drinking is through the use of a breathalyser. Thankfully, on the DrinkAndDriveSafe website, we stock a range of breathalysers. From basic, budget, disposable models right through to advanced, reusable, digital breathalysers. And if you are a business, we can also stock these at larger quantities. Contact us to find out more. We are always keen to work with local businesses who can help spread the DrinkDriveSafe message. If this sounds like you, do feel free submit your email address and we will be in touch. We look forward to receiving your enquiry.