Q & A – DUI
Q – What is the first thing I should do when I get pulled over and asked if I was drinking?
The officer can smell the oder of alcohol on your breath, he already knows you were drinking. It’s never a good idea to lie to an officer, especially about something he already knows. But you don’t have to answer his question in detail either. Usually just saying “yes” and stopping at that is best. If the officer presses and asks how much and when, realize you don’t have to answer these questions, and shouldn’t. At this point, just change the subject and ask if you are “free to go”.
Q- Can I refuse to take a Breathalyzer test?
The roadside breathtest (or PBT, preliminary breath test), yes, absolutely. And you should refuse it. You should NEVER do any of the Standard Field Sobriety Maneuvers or “Roadsides”. They are voluntary and you cannot be penalized for not doing them. Now, you may get arrested, but let’s be honest, as soon as the officer smelled the odor of alcohol on your breath you probably were going to be arrested. All the dancing on the roadside does is strengthen the State’s case.
Q- If I refuse what are the potential repercussions?
If you refuse the Roadsides (including the PBT) you will get arrested 8 minutes earlier than if you do the roadsides. But you will also deprive the prosecution of much damaging evidence, so just refuse the Roadsides.
If, once you arrested, you refuse the “expressed consent” chemical test of your blood or breath (the non-roadside test), you may be subject to revocation of your driver’s license for a period of one year or longer. If you are revoked, you may be eligible for early reinstatement of driving privileges with an Interlock Device installed in your car after just two months. If you took a test, a first offense loss is for nine months with the possibility of an Interlock license after one month.
Q- Are the results always accurate?
The PBT is wildly inaccurate and is admissible only to show you have alcohol in your system. The Intoxilizer 9000 Breathtest is accurate to +/- 10%. The blood test is more accurate than that.
Q- I take prescription medication. Can that affect the results?
DUI is driving when you have consumed alcohol or any drugs (even prescription drugs) or a combination or alcohol and drugs that affects your ability to drive safely. You can be DUI on legal, prescription medications if they affect your ability to drive safely. You can be DUI if you are taking a legal medication and go out for dinner and drink one glass of wine or have one beer and that, in combination with the medication, affects your ability to drive safely. You can be convicted of DUI even if your BAC is below .05, the legal limit for DWAI, if medications, combined with the alcohol, affect your driving.
Q- What is BAC?
Blood Alcohol Content. The limit in Colorado is .05 for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), and .08 for DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
Q- What is the best way to beat a drunk driving charge?
If you have had more than one drink, don’t drive. It’s not illegal to drink and drive in Colorado. We have all had a glass of beer with friends and then driven. We have all had a glass of wine with dinner and then driven. Was this illegal? No. It is not illegal to drink and drive, it is illegal to be drunk and drive.
Don’t try to guess your limit. Alcohol effects your ability to determine if you are too intoxicated to drive. When you are intoxicated, you think you can do things that you have no business doing, like driving a 2-ton piece of metal at 40 mph within 3 feet of other traffic.
That having been said, if you find yourself stopped with alcohol in your system, say very little, don’t do the roadsides, do a blood test, be polite. You are not going to talk yourself out of the situation.
Q- If I plan on pleading guilty do I need a lawyer?
I work out the vast majority of my cases without having to go to trial. But I work them out favorably because I know a good deal from a bad one and I can, and will take your case to trial if I don’t get a good one. That can mean a no jail deal on a tough case. It can mean a deal that saves the driver’s license for someone who needs to drive for work. I save many driver’s licenses at the DMV “expressed consent hearing”. For many of my clients, this is worth the price of representation all by itself. I also help my clients understand the probation system and can help them avoid an unnecessarily long period of alcohol treatment. A good lawyer will help you get the least possible consequences with your plea of guilty.
Q- Will I lose my license if I am found guilty?
You can lose your license several ways. The DMV “expressed consent” (BAC > .08) case is entirely separate from the criminal case. Yet, if you get 12 points in 12 months, as an adult, the DMV can suspend your license for points. Some of my clients will lose their license with the DMV even though I get their DUI case dismissed. I will be able to save other licenses even if my client is found guilty of DWAI. It depends on your unique situation. You do not automatically lose your license if you are found guilty of an alcohol-related offense.
Q- If I cant afford an attorney and lose will I have a second chance to present my case?
No. You only get one shot. An appeal will only be successful if you can show that the judge made a mistake, as a matter of law, on your case.
A 24-year old young man was seen by an officer hitting a median (he explained it was because he was looking at his cell phone). Officer put him through roadsides