The Approach Sequence

Then they go into their ‘approach sequence’. That’s the end of the stalking sequence. They pulled you over. They’re approaching you and now they’re looking for other things. They’re looking for things, the obvious. Are you slumped over? Is your head up in a normal position or is it wobbling around?

They want to see if your brake lights are off. Did you put your car in park? They’re looking to see how you’re reacting. They’re observing you through your back window and through your side mirror as they’re approaching you. When they approach you, did you have trouble rolling down the window? Of course, they’re looking at your speech right away.

I would say 90% of police reports that I read are going to indicate police observations such as, “Eyes were watery. The subject had glassy, watery, bloodshot eyes. Speech was slurred, or slow, or thick, slurred speech. Hard to understand.”

It’s most usually some verbiage that they use over and over again, all the reports. Right when they approach you, they’re thinking about, “How are you speaking to them? Are you having any problems understanding them or responding? “

The Police Will Engage You in Conversation to Gauge Your Speech Patterns

Are you maintaining eye contact? Do you appear nervous? They will ask you that and it’s the first thing that the officer’s going to ask you after they stop you.

Interviewer: They may ask you where you’ve been. How you doing today? Do you know why I pulled you over? Can I see you driver’s license, registration.

Shannon: They’re using those questions, not because they really want to know, they’re looking to see if you’re going to respond to them in the normal way or if you’re going to respond to them like you appear under the influence. They use those questions because they want to hear how you’re speaking, they want to see your eye movement, and they also want to see your motor skills.

The Police Will Be Observing Your Motor Skills While You Are Inside Your Car

They want to see how fast it takes you to understand what they’re saying and then how fast or slowly you respond to the request for actually reaching for your license and registration. Are you fumbling through your wallet? Are you having a hard time finding your documents? Did you have trouble opening up your glove box?

When you do find your wallet, did you have trouble taking the license out, or did you do it easily? Every movement they observe they’re either categorizing you as responding normally or responding as being under the influence.

Interviewer: I’ve been pulled over many times, and I’ve fumbled with my wallet. I couldn’t find my documents. I’ve done all these things, but luckily I haven’t been asked if I’ve been drinking. When the police observe this, are they forming a suspicion that the person’s had either alcohol or drugs?

What will they do next? What kind of questions will they ask? Will they just arrest them right away?

The Police Will Look for the Smell of Alcohol Inside Your Car and on Your Breath

Shannon: An officer’s got to stand outside your vehicle the whole time. They can’t put their hands on the inside of your door. They can’t lean in. They can lean down to talk to you, but they can’t lean in. They can’t cross that threshold to the inside of your vehicle.

They’re leaning down. They’re trying to see if they can smell any alcohol. If, for some reason, they have anything of the observations that we just talked about, for example, if you dropped your license, your hands were really shaky, and your eyes were bloodshot, then next you’re getting pulled out of the car. You will be asked to take the field sobriety test.

Shannon I. Wilson, Esq.

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