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Traffic Stop Survival Guide: How to Avoid Escalating the Situation
/ 20 February, 2023

The police can stop you for many reasons. For example, you may be speeding, have a broken windshield, or your vehicle may fit the description of someone they are searching for.

While no one wants to be pulled over, it is something most people will deal with at some point in their lives.

When you are pulled over, you may be frustrated and annoyed; however, you must ensure you remain calm and do not escalate the situation. Police are more on edge today than ever due to the significant increase in the intentional killing of officers. For example, in 2021, 73 officers around the country were killed, with two being in Colorado.

Learning what to do and how to keep things civil will ensure that you are not charged with additional crimes or experience other consequences.

The Right Way to Pull Your Vehicle Over | Traffic Stop Survival Guide

If you are being pulled over for a traffic stop, there is a right way to do this. Never slam on your brakes if you see the red and blue lights behind you. Instead, begin to slow down immediately and use your turn signal to indicate you plan to stop.

Pull off the road completely onto a side street or the shoulder. Try to park your vehicle, so it is out of traffic flow. If there is no safe place to stop, drive slowly to another location.

Remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and turn the radio off. If passengers are in the vehicle, ask them to stay quiet and keep their hands visible.

Talking to the Police Officer

Be polite when talking to the officer. Greet them pleasantly, which will help reduce their stress and fears. The situation will likely be worse if you appear annoyed, angry, rude, or condescending to the officer.

Make sure to follow the instructions given by the officer and provide them with your registration, driver’s license, and insurance information when requested. Treat the officer with courtesy and respect.

It is fine to keep your answers short, such as “No sir” or “Yes ma’am.” Doing this will help your situation and may even result in the officer letting you go with a warning rather than a citation. Take off your sunglasses and keep eye contact with the police officer. This is a sign that you are being honest.

Try to remain inconspicuous. If the officer does not remember everything about your encounter, it can be beneficial if you go to court. You should also try to keep a record of what happened for your records. Take note of when and where you were stopped, your speed, and anything else that may be relevant. For example, what were the road conditions and traffic conditions like? Try to write down this information, so you do not forget.

If you are given a citation, take it, even if you do not think you did anything wrong. Signing the ticket does not mean you are guilty. It is only used to show that you received a copy of the ticket. If you refuse to sign the citation, the officer has reasonable grounds to believe you will not pay it or show up to court. In these situations, the officer is within their legal rights to arrest you. It is best to sign the citation and move on with your day.

What Not to Say When Pulled Over

When you are pulled over, the officer will ask you questions. Each question has a purpose. The officer’s job is to collect evidence they can use against you. They are not your friend and are trained to ask entrapping or leading questions.

Never admit anything related to how you were driving. Do not admit you were speeding or that you committed any other traffic violation. If you decide to fight the ticket, admitting guilt will reduce the likelihood of success in your case.

What to Do if the Officer Searches Your Vehicle

You are protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the U.S. Constitution. Usually, an officer must have a search warrant to search your person or property.

However, this warrant is not required if you consent to the search. Another exception is probable cause. If the police officer believes an illegal activity is happening or has seen evidence that a search of your person or vehicle will reveal evidence of something illegal, your consent is not required.

Protecting Yourself and Your Rights When Pulled Over by the Police in Colorado

Being pulled over is not something most people look forward to. However, knowing what to do in these situations is beneficial. Keep the information above in mind, which will help you avoid serious issues.


Remember, the police have a job to do. If you remain polite and compliant with their requests, the process will be much easier and less time-consuming for everyone.

If you have received a traffic citation and believe you were not guilty of the infraction, our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, can help. We understand the law and will help you fight the charge in court.

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Breaking the Habit : How to Fix Common but Dangerous Driving Habits
/ 16 February, 2023

In the state of Colorado, reckless driving is a crime. Many drivers may not realize that what they think of as bad habits is reckless driving.

Reckless driving is defined as someone operating a vehicle that shows a willful or wanton disregard for others’ safety. Some examples of reckless driving include driving while intoxicated, speeding, tailgating, and running red lights.

Here, you can learn about some bad driving habits that you should cease to avoid being charged with reckless driving. If you have been charged with this or have been issued a traffic citation, our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, can help.

Bad Driving Habits and the Best Way to Fix Them

It is important to note that not all the bad driving habits here are considered reckless; however, they do increase the potential of an accident. Because of this, it is best to avoid them when on the road.

Failing to Use Your Turn Signal

Your turn signals let others on the road (i.e., drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) know your intentions when switching lanes, at an intersection, or in a parking lot.

If you do not use your turn signal, you risk causing a dangerous situation or collision for others. You can correct this problem by using your signals each time you move or turn.

Road Rage

Road rage is something that can transform anyone into a completely different person almost instantly. Unfortunately, angry drivers are also unsafe drivers.

You may wonder why you get so angry behind the wheel. One reason is that other drivers are anonymous and hidden in their cars. This means they are dehumanized, and the reaction is similar to what people do online.

Driving with someone in your vehicle can help you avoid some cases of road rage; however, it may not always be an effective “fix” for this bad habit. It is up to you to recognize the signs you are getting angry and take time to relax and calm down. Being angry behind the wheel makes the road more dangerous for everyone.

Distracted Driving

When driving, you must stay focused on the road and avoid distractions. Accidents are much more likely if you are distracted.

By now, you know that there are many different types of distractions, including eating, texting, and more. While teens are common culprits of distracted driving, it is a problem for drivers of all ages.

Right of Way Errors

When driving up to an intersection, knowing who has the right of way is important. Unfortunately, many drivers do not remember what the rules are. Even if you believe you have the right of way, you should pay attention to what the other drivers are doing. If someone else believes it is their turn to go and moves into the intersection, it could cause a collision.

It is always best to let the other driver go first and prevent issues in this situation.

Drowsy Driving

Drunk driving is dangerous because your reaction times are reduced. The same applies to drowsy driving. Cases of drowsy driving are more likely to occur on highways, which increases the potential of a fatal accident. Do not try to “tough it out” if you feel sleepy. Pull over and rest. While sleeping in your car is not ideal, it is better than causing an accident.

Speeding Through Yellow Lights

Yellow lights are a sign that you should slow down and prepare to stop – they do not mean you should speed up and avoid stopping at the red light.

If you speed up, it will result in you doing this at the last second. This increases the possibility that you mistime things and run a red light, which could cause an accident. Also, if an officer is nearby, you may get a ticket or face other consequences.


Tailgating is considered extremely dangerous. Not only that, but it is also extremely frustrating and can cause the driver being tailgated to experience road rage (discussed above).

When you follow the car ahead of you too closely, it increases the possibility of an accident and may even result in the driver in the lead to “brake check” you.

A good rule of thumb is to keep at least one car distance between you and the car ahead of you. Even if they are driving extremely slowly, you should never tailgate. It is dangerous in many different ways.

Get Help with Reckless Driving Charges in Denver

If you have been arrested and charged with reckless driving in Colorado, our legal team can help. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we can help you establish a strong defense strategy and help you avoid the serious consequences of this charge.

Even if you have just received a ticket for your bad driving habits, we can help. Defending your case and having the ticket reduced or thrown out is possible.

The first step is to contact our office and discuss your case. We take pride in aggressively defending our clients and working to gather evidence related to the situation. Contact us today to learn more.

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The Anatomy of a Criminal Defense Case
/ 13 February, 2023

In Colorado, a criminal case typically starts with an arrest. After that, there are set processes and procedures in place. For example, after you are arrested, you will be booked in jail, have bail set by a judge, may face an indictment, and more. The specific steps in your criminal case depend on the charges.

While these situations can be challenging and confusing, you have help available. Hiring a Denver criminal defense lawyer from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC is highly recommended.

An attorney can provide more advice and guidance regarding the progression and defense of your case. You can also learn more here.

The Arrest

Before diving into the criminal process, it is important to understand that the police must have probable cause to believe you committed a crime.

One way they gain this probable cause is when an officer witnesses something you are doing that is considered criminal or after an investigation that convinces a judge to issue a warrant for your arrest. Just because it is believed that you have committed a crime and been arrested, it does not mean you are automatically guilty. In fact, the entire court system in the United States presumes your innocence until you are proven guilty.

When you are arrested, law enforcement officers will take you into custody. In many situations, an arrest involves an officer searching you, patting you down, handcuffing you, and putting you in the back of their squad car. You may (or may not) be read your Miranda rights. It depends on the criminal offense you are suspected of.

Some people mistakenly believe that it is required that the police read Miranda warnings to them during any arrest. The truth is, though, that this warning is only required when the police interrogate or question you.

After being arrested, you will likely be taken to the local jail and booked with criminal charges pressed against you. Usually, the booking process involves gathering information from you, such as your name and other personal information. Your personal belongings will be taken and cataloged, and you will likely undergo a full body search. Your photo and fingerprints will be taken.

Most booking records are public. In some situations, websites and newspapers will post information about the people who are arrested. This is the case even if you are not convicted or found guilty.

Bail or Bond

Once you are booked into jail, it may be possible for you to be released. Usually, this is possible through bail. However, if you hire a Denver assault lawyer, they may be able to argue that you should be released without having to pay this; however, it is not always possible.

If you can pay the bail amount (or if someone pays it on your behalf), you are released and can continue living your normal life until your scheduled court hearing. However, for situations where you are considered a flight risk, a judge may keep you in custody until your hearing to determine if the bail should be issued and how much it should be.

Some of the factors that impact the bail amount, and if you are a flight risk, include:

  • Your ties to the community
  • Any potential safety risks
  • Your previous record of failing to appear in court
  • The severity of your crime and the potential length of your sentence
  • Your employment status
  • Your financial resources

Many people use the words “bail” and “bond” interchangeably. However, they are not the same in the criminal justice system.

Your bail is how much money you must pay the court before you are released. The money serves as a guarantee that you are going to appear on your court date. If you do not come to your court date or if you flee, the state can keep the bail, which may be a large amount of money.

You may find that you cannot come up with a large amount of money required to get out of jail quickly. In these situations, you can use the services of a bail bonds company. This company will provide some of the money required and guarantees that the whole amount will be paid if you flee.

The bond company gets a percentage of the bail amount from your family. In Colorado, the amount is around 10% to 15% of the total bail. Also, the bond company secures this loan using some type of collateral (i.e., property, a car, a home, etc.).

The Arraignment

After you are arrested, you must appear in court for an arraignment and advisement. In some situations, this is your first appearance. If you cannot afford to hire a Denver drug lawyer, then you can be assigned one by the judge. At this point, a public defender will come to help you with your criminal charges.

Advisement is the process of informing you about the criminal charges you are facing. You will also learn about the potential penalties you can face if you are convicted of the crime.

Arraignment is when the prosecuting attorney presents the criminal complaint against a defendant. This will include a list of all the criminal charges you are facing.

Sometimes, the prosecution will provide an offer and proposed sentence. It is often your first chance to plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the charges you face. If you decide to accept the given plea deal and you plead guilty to the criminal charges, then the judge will move forward and issue a sentence to you. It is important to note that the judge does not have to go with the sentence that is offered in the deal provided by the prosecuting attorney.

The criminal case will move forward if you decide to plead not guilty. The next step is the pretrial phase. During this, the judge over your case will set a date for your next time in court. If you do not appear at your arraignment (or have your attorney appear for you) you will be issued a bench warrant, which means you will be arrested.

Pretrial Conference

Once the arraignment is complete, your Denver DUI lawyer can see all the records related to your case. This includes evidence, documents, police reports, and more.

The available evidence can help your lawyer determine how strong the case against you is. It will also be used to find weaknesses in the state’s argument.

A pretrial hearing may be used for your defense lawyer and the district attorney or state prosecutor to discuss the possibility of a plea bargain. The plea bargain is an agreement that you reach with the district attorney.

Sometimes, a plea agreement will involve reducing your criminal charges or dropping some of them if you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. When your attorney can prove that the prosecution does not have a strong case, you may even have the criminal charges against you dismissed due to lack of evidence or some other reason.

Plea Deal

You must decide if you will accept a plea deal. Your attorney can advise you on whether you should take the deal; however, it is ultimately up to you.

Several factors often impact whether you should take the deal and enter a plea of no contest or guilty. Plea bargains are smart options if there is much evidence against you. In this case, accepting a plea deal means that you can get a lighter sentence and avoid the maximum jail time that applies to the situation.

Plea bargains can also be beneficial when the district attorney agrees to reduce your felony charges to a misdemeanor. A felony conviction comes with much more severe penalties and restrictions after you complete your jail sentence (if one is given).

If you have a fairly strong case, then the district attorney may want to have you plead guilty to a reduced charge. This is done so they can get a conviction, even for a minor charge. In some cases, the D.A. knows they do not have a strong case and put up a front to try to get you to do this.

If you turn the deal down, the case may be dropped due to a lack of evidence. It may also be dropped if the D.A. does not have the resources or time to commit to a case that may be unsuccessful.

Once the initial hearing and your pretrial conferences are complete, your attorney will better understand the weaknesses and strengths of your case. You should discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of accepting the plea deal for your situation.

Jury Trial

Many Colorado criminal cases will never make it to the trial stage. Most will be handled through a plea deal. With this, you can get a reduced sentence while the district attorney gets their conviction.

A criminal trial that a judge hears is called a bench trial. If a jury hears your trial, it is a jury trial.

During a jury trial, the case is argued in front of a judge who determines matters related to the law. The jury is composed of your peers responsible for factual determinations.

The timeline of a trial varies. It can last just a few days or several months. It all depends on the charges and complexity of the case.

Usually, trials start with pretrial motions. During this, the D.A. and defense attorney can file motions that are relevant to your case. One example of this is a motion to suppress evidence. After the pretrial motions are filed, the parties will proceed to jury selection. During this, a large pool of possible jurors will be interviewed. Both attorneys will have the ability to dismiss jurors with cause or by using peremptory challenges.

After the jury selection process is complete, the trial starts. The first part is when the D.A. makes its opening statement. During this, the case against you is presented. After the D.A. is finished, your attorney will have the chance to respond.

The trial will involve several things, such as:

  • Submitting evidence
  • Expert testimony
  • Calling witnesses
  • Arguing against or for a conviction
  • Making a closing argument

At this point, it is up to the jury to decide if there is sufficient evidence to find you guilty. The evidence must be enough to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for each criminal charge you are facing.

If you are guilty of even one charge, your case moves on to the next step – sentencing.

After the Trial

When the trial is complete, you will be issued a date for your sentencing hearing. The sentence you receive is based on the mandatory minimum penalties in the state, the recommended sentences, your past criminal record, and any aggravating or mitigating factors.

The district attorney can file an appeal if you have been found not guilty. This is available if there are errors that occur throughout your trial. After being found guilty, you have the option to file an appeal.

Understanding the Colorado Legal Process

As you can see, many parts of the Colorado criminal trial process exist. Understanding the steps and what happens during each can help you prepare for the situation and know what to expect. This can help to reduce some of the stress you feel related to the situation and the charges you are facing.

Any time you are facing criminal charges, it is recommended that you contact an attorney from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, for assistance. Our legal team can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

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How the Police Spot Drunk Drivers 
/ 07 February, 2023

Colorado police officers receive special training to know what to look for when identifying intoxicated drivers. Part of this training includes learning what behaviors to watch for that indicate intoxication, like speeding, swerving, or braking erratically.

If an officer suspects a driver is intoxicated, they have the legal right to pull them over for additional investigation.

Once a driver has been pulled over, the officer knows what other signs to look for that indicate potential intoxication. Some of the signs include glassy or bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol when they speak, and slurred speech. Sometimes, officers will request a driver to perform a field sobriety test. These tests often involve walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. If the driver cannot pass these tests, the officer has enough evidence to arrest them for driving under the influence.

Other signs may be mistaken for intoxication when this is not the case. For example, the individual may be anxious, not feeling well, dealing with allergies, or tired.

Field Sobriety Tests

Police use different field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is truly impaired. The most commonly used test is the HGN – horizontal gaze nystagmus test. With this test, the police will watch the driver’s eyes while they follow a moving object. During the test, the officer will watch the person’s eyes for specific signs of intoxication. Signs include:

  • Maximum deviation
  • Distinct nystagmus (motion of the eyes)
  • Lack of smooth pursuit

Authorities can use other field sobriety tests, too. These include the one-leg standing test and the walk-and-turn test.

With the walk-and-turn test, the driver is asked to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, in a straight line and turn around, then take nine more steps back. The test is used to determine if the person can maintain their balance and if they can comprehend and follow instructions.

The next is the one-leg stand test. With this, the officer will ask the driver to stand on one leg for 30 seconds.

It is worth noting that field sobriety tests are highly contested because many believe they are not accurate ways to determine if someone is intoxicated. While this is true, they are still used as a common way to determine if a driver is impaired.

Besides field sobriety tests, authorities may also require a suspect to take a preliminary breath test. The test will be done on the side of the road. If it shows a positive reading, then the officer has enough evidence to arrest someone for DUI (driving under the influence). While this is true, the roadside test results cannot be used as evidence in court.

Express Consent

If officers believe they have enough evidence to arrest someone for DUI after conducting the field sobriety tests described above, they can do so. According to Colorado statutes, drivers have given their consent to a breath or blood test if they are suspected of driving while intoxicated.

In some circumstances, the officer can let a driver choose if they would prefer a blood or breath test. The law also states that the test must be done within two hours of the person being arrested.

As someone who is suspected of drunk driving, you have the right to refuse the test. However, it is worth noting that doing so will come with consequences. In some situations, though, this is the best way to handle this situation.

DUI Laws in Colorado

While Colorado has some of the most lax laws regarding drugs like marijuana, it has some of the strictest

DUI laws in the country. If you are caught driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher, you will face DUI charges. Also, you will face DUI charges if you are found driving while under the influence of drugs.

There is also a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who is caught drinking underage. If someone under age 21 is caught driving with a 0.02% BAC (or higher) will face DUI charges.

Colorado DUI convictions come with several penalties, including the use of an ignition interlock device, alcohol education classes, and license suspension. Some charges also carry jail time.

Hire an Experienced Colorado DUI Attorney to Help

If you are facing DUI charges, you should hire an attorney to help you better understand the legal process and to protect your rights. DUI convictions carry significant penalties, and the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani can help protect your rights and freedoms.

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