Police Officers are trained to look for certain ‘common’ signs of intoxication when evaluating a suspect for DWI. Some of these are thought to be so frequently exhibited in DWI cases, that the local police agencies in Austin have pre-printed forms for probable cause affidavits so that they can quickly check off boxes – and, then, presumably, move on to the next arrest.

The Austin Police DWI affidavit form includes checkboxes for:

  • Odor of Alcohol: Strong, Moderate, Faint, None
  • Eyes: Bloodshot, Watery, Glassy, Dilated, Constricted
  • Speech: Mumbled, Slurred, Confused, Not Understandable, Mushmouthed, Stuttered, Fair, Good, Accent, Thick Tongued
  • Balance: Wobbling, Falling, Swaying, Unsure, Needed Support
  • Attitude: Excited, Hilarious, Talkative, Uncooperative, Profanity, Polite, Sleepy, Combative, Indifferent, Cooperative, Insulting, Cocky
  • Walking/Turning: Falling, Swaying, Staggering, Stumbling

Other than “No Odor of Alcohol,” “Fair/Good” speech, and “Polite/Cooperative” attitude, all the others are arguably signs of intoxication. And the more that are checked off, the more the State believes they have a strong case. 

But aren’t there perfectly good reasons why someone could exhibit several or many of these that aren’t reliable indicators of intoxication? Of course.

Some of the reasons other than intoxication include medical conditions, personality traits and physical characteristics/abilities of each individual. I will explore each of these in upcoming posts.