Over the Limit and Under Arrest: What Happens When You Get A DUI

RENO, Nev. -- New Year's Eve is one of the most popular nights for drinking alcohol. More than a million people nationwide will get stopped on suspicion of impaired driving. Law enforcement across Northern Nevada will be part of the effort to get drunk drivers off the road. What actually happens after you get pulled over?

What you're watching is a re-enactment of what would happen if you were to be arrested for drunk driving. KOLO 8 New's Now's Catherine Van plays the part of a suspected impaired driver.

The nightmare night begins with certain tell tail signs of drunk driving. According to Officer Matt Marquez of the Sparks Police Department says he looks for people driving without headlights, cars swerving or failing to maintain a travel lane, or if drivers are hitting the curbs or getting into traffic accidents.

Before you know it, the lights and sirens are behind you. When you get pulled over, police look for various, obvious signs of intoxication: odor or fidgety eyes.

Next comes a series of tests you might've seen in movies or TV shows. The first part of the field test is the eye nystagmus test. Without movie your head, you follow the officer's finger of pen with your eyes. They look for involuntary jerking or trembling of the eyeball, which are signs that you have consumed alcohol.

The tests involves a lot of commands to see if you can follow simple instructions.

Next comes the walk and turn. You walk along a line as the officer looks to see if you can keep your balance, follow instructions, if you begin early, stop during the test, or step off the line. You will also have to keep balance by standing on one leg. The officer is looking for raising of the arms, swaying, tremors, or hopping during the test.

"Basically we're going to be asking you questions to take away any reasonable suspicion that we might have: a medical problem or head injury that may have caused it," Officer Marquez said.

Then comes the breath test. The legal limit is a 0.08.

"It's our observation not the test that makes the arrest," he said.

If you fail the field sobriety test, the next stop is jail. Once you get there, law enforcement will take all your belongings and take your mugshot before your go behind bars.

By law, you must complete an evidentary test either with your breath, blood or urine and you cannot refuse. According to Todd Vinger, Undersheriff for the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, driving is a privilege not a right.

"You already gave that a consent when you signed for a drivers license to give those samples as needed," he said.

If you end up behind bars, you could be spending the rest of your night crammed in a cell with about 250 people.

"First time DUI is not a weekend event, it's an event that could affect your life up to seven years," Officer Vinger said. "It is easily the most preventable crime that we have...$20 or $30 in a cab fee sure beats any thousands of dollars, days in jail, and a chance of losing your job."

The average cost of a first time DUI ranges from five to 10 thousand dollars. In Nevada, you also lose you drivers license for 90 days.

One way of preventing from getting a DUI is to plan ahead or take public transportation. RTC is offering free rides in Reno from 7p.m. to 2 a.m. Another idea is to store the number of the local cab companies in your phone now, so you are prepared just in case.


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