Do people get pulled over for DUI?

People usually do not get pulled over for DUI specifically.  The police may suspect that a driver is under the influence based on the way he is driving.  But, the police must have reasonable suspicion that an independent infraction occurred to stop, or “pull over”, any motorist.  This can be anything from having a light out, to weaving, to speeding, to being involved in an actual accident.

Once the police pull a person over, what happens next?

The police will ask for the person’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.  Politely give the requested documents to the police officer.  However, if the police officer suspects that a driver has consumed alcohol, he will be on the lookout for any indications to support his theory of impairment.  This can include “fumbling” with a license or other document when taking them out for the police.  Therefore, it is important to have these documents somewhere easily accessible if you are the type to get nervous around police (who isn’t?!) and “fumble” documents even when completely sober.

If the police ask questions, do I have to answer them?

The police are likely to ask you several questions, especially if they suspect that you have consumed alcohol.  For example, he might ask how much you have had to drink or where you are coming from.  By law, you do NOT have to answer these questions.  You can tell the police officer that you do not want to answer questions or merely remain completely silent.  However, it is ALWAYS a good idea to be polite to the police – even when stating that you will not be answering any questions.

What if the police ask me to perform roadside tests?

Standard Field Sobriety Tests, also known as “roadside tests”, are completely voluntary.  Therefore, you do not have to perform these tests.  It is important to note that if you choose not to perform the tests, the police may not use your refusal against you in court.  This means that the police or a prosecuting attorney may not tell a judge or jury that you refused to take the roadside tests.  This is because it is purely voluntary. However, if a driver does agree to perform roadside tests, the results of those tests may, and usually are, used against them in court.

What if the police ask me to perform a breathalyzer test?

There is a lot of confusion around breathalyzer tests and whether or not a driver has to submit to one.  This is usually because there are two possible types of breathalyzer tests that the police may ask you to submit to.  The first is a portable breathalyzer test that is often used on the side of the road.  This instrument is small and held by the police officer when a person blows into it.  This type of breathalyzer test is completely voluntary.  A driver does NOT have to submit to this type of test and even if he does, the results of this test are not allowed as evidence in court.  However, such a test supports probable cause to arrest a driver under suspicion of DUI or DWAI.  For the other kind of breathalyzer test, see below.

Are there any tests I do HAVE to submit to – short answer?

Technically, no (but please see the long answer below!).  You do not have to submit to any kind of tests unless a judge has ordered it, with a couple other exceptions.  It is best to discuss this with an attorney if you believe that you fall under an exception.

Are there any tests I SHOULD consider submitting to – long answer?

Although you do not have to submit to any test, a driver will automatically lose their license for one year if he chooses not to submit to some form of chemical test.  The Express Consent Law in Colorado requires any driver to consent to a chemical test if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.  When does a driver “expressly agree”?  When they get a license from the state and drive on the roads.  Driving is considered a privilege, not a right, in Colorado. Furthermore, if a driver does not submit to a chemical test, his refusal CAN be admitted in court by the prosecution.

What is a “chemical test”?

A chemical test can include a blood, breath, saliva or urine test.  However, the two most common chemical tests used to measure alcohol in the blood are a blood or breath test.  Generally once a driver is arrested and suspected of DUI or DWAI the police will ask him to take either a breathalyzer or blood ethanol test.  Please note:  this type of breathalyzer test differs from the roadside one – it is not portable.  In fact it is a rather large machine and usually held at the police station.  There are specific rules that the police must follow in order to insure that the testing is accurate.  The results from this type of breathalyzer test may be, and usually are, used against you in court.  Likewise, if a blood test is used, the police will notify an EMT or paramedic who will then come and take a blood sample from you.  The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis and any findings of alcohol will likely be used against you in court.  In general, a person can choose either the blood or breath test, with a few exceptions.  Note that either test must be taken within two hours of driving to be valid.

Which test is better, the blood alcohol or breathalyzer test?

This question is often asked to defense attorneys.  Although often debated, there really isn’t a “better” test.

What if a chemical test shows I have alcohol in my system?

Colorado laws have created a “permissible inference” of impairment based on the results of the chemical testing – either the breathalyzer or blood test.  If a chemical test shows that a driver had a BAC of 0.05 but less than 0.08, the permissible inference is that the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired and that driver will be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI). Similarly, if a driver’s chemical test shows that he had a BAC of 0.08 or more, the permissible inference is that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and he will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).  A permissible inference, although usually persuasive with a jury, does not automatically lead to a guilty verdict.  It is just one piece of evidence that the prosecution will use to convict a driver of DWAI or DUI.  The prosecution is likely to show other signs of impairment, including such evidence relating to poor driving, failed roadside tests, slurred speech, watery/red eyes, fumbling with documents, stumbling, etc…

Can a defense attorney help me even if I have a high BAC?

Absolutely!  A good defense attorney can help determine whether the evidence in a DUI or DWAI case is credible and whether your rights were upheld.  Furthermore, a knowledgeable defense attorney, like Peter Loyd Weber, knows where the weaknesses in a DUI and DWAI case are.  In order to enter a BAC test result into evidence, very specific rules must be followed by the police and lab.  Furthermore, it is not uncommon for lab results to have errors or other problems that make the accuracy of the results questionable.  Therefore, it is important to contact a zealous and knowledgeable defense attorney, like Peter Loyd Weber, as soon as you are arrested for DUI or DWAI.  The sooner we get to work on your case, the better the defense we can prepare on your behalf.  Call us today at 720-863-7755.

Categories: DUI