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Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Advise on What to Do if You are Pulled Over for a DUI

September 14, 2016

If you are like most folks, you have never been pulled over and been suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. So like most folks, you may have no idea what happens when you do get pulled over and what rights you have under the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. As a Denver defense attorney with experience in these matters, here is some information I hope you never need.

If stopped for a possible DUI, remain silent. You have a constitutional right to silence, and that can never be used against you in court. So if your case eventually goes to trial, the prosecutor will not be allowed to tell the jury that you did not answer the arresting officer’s questions. If you are asked if you have had anything to drink, do not answer the question. In fact, do not answer any questions at all – except to tell the officer your name, address, and date of birth. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have stated that you must continue to assert your right to remain silent. Amazingly, being silent does NOT assert your right to remain silent. Simply inform the officer that you will not answer any questions about this situation without the presence of your defense attorney. If they persist, simply repeat that you want your attorney present. To be clear, you are very unlikely to talk your way out of a DUI arrest.

Be polite with the officers because there is nothing to be gained by being aggressive, angry, or rude. If you are in court for a DUI charge the prosecution will be only too happy to introduce testimony of you swearing at police officers as further evidence of your alleged intoxication. 

Don't demand to speak to an attorney before taking the breath test or blood test. If you insist upon talking to an attorney, you will lose your opportunity to take the test and the police will call it a "refusal." You do not have the right to speak with an attorney before you must take the formal breath or blood test. That being said, do not take a hand-held breath test while still at the scene. This test is called a “Preliminary Breath Test,” or “PBT.” Your refusal to take this test cannot be used against you later in court. These tests are considered to be scientifically unreliable for the purposes of trial but they can be used to build the case for a DUI officer deciding to arrest you.

At some point, the officer will invoke Colorado’s Expressed Consent law and ask if you will submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath. This breath test is performed using a large machine that sits on a tabletop – not the small, hand-held one presented at the scene. If you decline to take this evidential blood or breath test, you may lose your driving privileges for a year or longer.

Roadside/field sobriety tests are voluntary and the officer should tell you as much. You are not obligated to take them. If the officer is intent on arresting you, you can expect the officer to interpret the slightest error against you as evidence of your failure to complete the roadside or field sobriety tests as a sober person would. You should not participate in building the prosecutor’s case against you.

DUI charges are more complicated than you realize. We can help you understand your case. We can also give you advice about what you should do next. Because our mission is to provide our clients with the best possible legal defense through zealous representation, as well as personal attention to every client. Call us today for more information: 303-501-1800.