What Clues Can Lead an Officer to have Cause to Stop a Car in North Carolina?

Most DWI (Driving While Impaired) stops occur when a police officer sees a car that is motion. The officer may notice that the car is weaving, or that the driver is violating some other law: for instance, headlights are not operating, the car runs a red light, or the officer runs the plates and finds the car is out of registration.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has established 24 DWI detection cues taught by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in State v. Bonds, 533 S.E.2d 855:

  1. weaving
  2. weaving across lanes
  3. straddling a lane line
  4. drifting
  5. swerving
  6. almost striking a vehicle or object
  7. turning with a wide radius
  8. stopping problems (too far, too short, too jerky)
  9. accelerating for no reason
  10. varying speed
  11. slow speed
  12. driving without headlights at night
  13. failure to signal a turn or lane change
  14. driving in opposing lane or wrong way on one-way street
  15. slow response to traffic signals
  16. slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals
  17. stopping in lane for no apparent reason
  18. following to closely
  19. improper or unsafe lane change
  20. illegal or improper turn
  21. driving on other than designated roadway
  22. stopping inappropriately in response to an officer
  23. inappropriate or unusual behavior
  24. appearing to be impaired.

Note that speeding is not one of the DWI cues recognized by the NHTSA, and therefore by North Carolina.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.