Drunk Driving Signs
Police officers receive special training to help them identify intoxicated drivers on the road. This training includes learning to look for specific behaviors that may indicate intoxication, such as swerving, speeding, or braking erratically. If a police officer suspects a driver may be intoxicated, they will likely pull the driver over for further investigation.
After pulling the driver over, they may check for other signs. These may include the driver’s eyes being bloodshot or glassy, slurred speech, or the smell of alcohol on their breath. The officer may also ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test, which may involve walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. If the driver fails one or more of these tests, they may be arrested for driving under the influence.
There are several signs that people often mistake for intoxication, when in reality, the person may just be tired, anxious, experiencing allergies, or not feeling well.
Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement officers may use many field sobriety tests to determine whether a driver is impaired. The most common of these tests is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, which involves the officer watching the driver’s eyes as they follow a moving object. The officer is looking for specific clues indicating intoxication: lack of smooth pursuit and distinct nystagmus (motion of the eyes) at maximum deviation.
Other field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg standing test. In the walk-and-turn test, the driver is instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn around, and then take nine more steps back. This test assesses the driver’s ability to maintain balance and follow instructions.
Another sobriety test is the one-leg stand test wherein the officer requires the driver to stand on one leg for 30 seconds.
There is a great deal of debate over the accuracy of field sobriety tests, and many experts believe that they are often inaccurate. However, they remain the most common method of determining impairment in drivers.
Officers may also ask if a suspect would agree to a preliminary breath test. This test is performed on the roadside. If it comes back positive, the officer will use it as probable cause to charge someone with DUI. However, the result is not admissible in court.
If after the field sobriety tests an officer believes there is sufficient evidence to support a DUI charge, they will advise the suspect of Colorado’s Express Consent law. By statute, a driver in Colorado is deemed to have consented to a test of their breath or blood if suspected of driving under the influence. Given some extraordinary circumstance, the officer has to offer the suspect the choice between a breath or blood test. The statute also provides that the test must be completed within two hours of driving. A suspect can also refuse the test. A refusal comes with its own consequences, but may be the best option in some situations.
Colorado DUI Laws
Colorado has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. If caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, you will be charged with DUI. In addition, if caught driving under the influence of drugs, you will also be charged with DUI.
Colorado also has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinkers. If you are under 21 and are caught driving with a BAC of .02 or higher, you will be charged with DUI.
If you are convicted of DUI in Colorado, you will face several penalties, including license suspension, mandatory alcohol education classes, and installation of an ignition interlock device. If you are convicted of DUI per se, which requires your alcohol level to be .08 or higher, you will face even harsher penalties, including jail time.
Hire a Lawyer for Your DUI Charge
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Colorado Springs, you need to hire an attorney to help you through the legal process. DUI can result in jail time, a loss of a driver’s license, and fines, so having a good lawyer is essential. Contact the Bussey Law Firm, P.C. for an immediate consultation. Call (719) 401-0585 to schedule your appointment.