Handling the Colorado DUI/DWAI Stop

The Colorado DUI/DWAI Police Stop of Your Vehicle

DUI/DWAI charges in Colorado are very serious. If you drive after drinking even a little alcohol, you are taking a big gamble. If an accident occurs, you are likely to be found at fault, even if you've done nothing wrong. If you drive too fast or violate a minor traffic law, you'll be arrested if you are stopped and the officer smells alcohol. It simply is not worth the risk to drink and drive.

That said, when a Denver or Lakewood, Colorado, police officer pulls you over for a suspected DUI/DWAI, he or she is looking for an excuse to arrest you - or "probable cause." Probable cause refers to facts or evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been, is being or will be committed.

The Fort Collins, Colorado police officer will observe how you respond to his or her vehicle's flashing lights, how long it takes you to pull over and how you park your car. If you take too long to stop, pull over without signaling, or get too close and bump the curb, it will be noted.

As the Aurora, Colorado, police officer approaches your window, he or she will be watching you to see how you respond to his or her presence. The officer will note in his or her report how you speak ("slurred speech" is a Denver police officer's favorite phrase), and the condition of your eyes ("blood shot, watery eyes" is common with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department). The Arapahoe County, Colorado, officer will note the condition of your clothing and whether you fumble in retrieving your license and insurance.

What to Say and What Not to Say to Police

You will certainly be asked how much you've had to drink. Don't say "a couple of beers," because that is code to an officer that you've had several. The Northglenn police officer will try to smell your breath and will certainly say in his or her report that he or she smelled "an odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage" to justify your Colorado DUI/DWAI arrest. The Douglas County, Colorado, sheriff officer will try to engage you in conversation to learn where you've been before the stop, in order to learn if you drank and to hear your voice and evaluate your thought process.

If you have not figured it out yet, the Denver police officer is on a mission to see if he or she can justify your arrest for a Colorado DUI/DWAI. Don't make it easy on him or her by agreeing to participate in voluntary roadside maneuvers. They are voluntary and you have no obligation to participate. So, politely decline and say, "I'd rather not." You will be limiting the scope of evidence the officer has available to justify your arrest. You will be making it more difficult for him or her to arrest you.

Don't Take the Voluntary Test

Next, don't agree to a voluntary test of your breath at the scene of your stop. The Jefferson County, Colorado, sheriff can use a portable breath test (PBT) to determine your blood alcohol level, and cite the result in his or her probable cause determination. So, again, don't agree to do this Colorado voluntary roadside test. You will give the officer more opportunity to arrest you if you do the roadside maneuvers or breath test.

If you are arrested for a Colorado DUI/DWAI, exercise your right to remain silent. Don't talk and volunteer information other than your basic identification. Even if you have not been given your Miranda advisement, anything you say can be used against you to convict you. Miranda only requires the Denver police officer to advise you before he or she questions you.

Take the Required Blood Alcohol Test

Once you are at the Colorado police station, you are required to submit to a Breathalyzer test or blood test to determine your blood alcohol level. You will need to take one or the other, or be deemed to have refused (a bad situation to be in). We'll discuss which one is the best choice in a later blog.

Whenever you are stopped by the police for a DUI/DWAI in Colorado, your best course is to remain silent, take only the required test at the police station, and then call us at 303-731-0719 for an in-person meeting. Together, we can protect your future.

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