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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.