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Do I have the right to refuse Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs)?

Refusing Sobriety Tests

Yes, the tests are voluntary. Although it will probably give the officer a bad attitude, every driver has the right to refuse these side-of-the-road tests and the officer will have to make an arrest determination based on the other information and observations that may be available. SFSTs are supposed to gage your ability to do physical and mental tasks at the same time, as in driving. The fact is, not that many people can pass these “tests” stone cold sober. Stress and embarrassment on the side of the road do not help.

When an officer asks me to follow a penlight, what are they doing?

What is a Penlight Test?

The penlight test is actually called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. Nystagmus is a medical term which describes a certain eye oscillation, essentially looking at the movement of the eye. Arguably, for an unimpaired person taking the test, the eye will follow the pen back and forth with only a minor jerking motion.

For an intoxicated person taking the test, the eye will move with a more pronounced and erratic motion as it tries to follow the pen. In general, the way the eyes move determines whether a person will appear to be impaired or not. There is however, debate regarding the value of this test as there are many causes for erratic eye movement other than alcohol.

Do I have the right to remain silent?

The Right to Remain Silent

Yes. When pulled over, you need to provide license, registration, and proof of insurance. Once an officer starts asking questions, such as what you’ve been doing, where you’re going, or whether you’ve had anything to drink, they are simply prodding for incriminating information and checking for the smell of alcohol or marijuana on your breath.

You are not required to answer these questions and can tell the officer that you are exercising your right to remain silent or that you want an attorney before answering or that you simply have nothing to say. It is your choice whether to speak at all.

It should be noted that when told that you must choose either a breath or a blood test, silence will be deemed a refusal to take such a test and generally this alone will lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.

What is the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content B.A.C.?

Legal Blood Alcohol Limit

In Colorado, a DUI is administered at a BAC of 0.08 or higher. A DWAI is administered when the BAC is less than 0.08 but greater than 0.05.

Were you on the line? Don’t let your case slide by without being heard.

Are there aspects of my case that can enhance the punishment of my DUI/DWAI/DUID case?

There are many factors that can dictate the punishment of your DUI case. Some common factors that will often create more punishment are listed below:

  • A child being in the car while the driver is driving drunk.
  • Speeding above certain levels (20-30 mph over the limit) while driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • A blood alcohol concentration or breath alcohol test of .20% or greater while DUI.
  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine when suspected of DUI.
  • An accident, property damage, or injury arising out of a DUI case.
  • The person driving under the influence is under 21 at the time of the offense.
  • Prior convictions for DUI, DWI, OUI, OWI, or a related drunk driving offense.

Does your Blood or Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) change when drinking at high altitude?

Blood Alcohol Concentration at High Altitudes

No. There are issues regarding dehydration but do not count on altitude being a factor in a DUI case.

If I eat a lot before drinking, will I become less intoxicated?

Eating Before Drinking to Avoid Getting Drunk

No. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will more quickly impair your ability to drive. Alcohol is not digested but is rather absorbed into your system. Food helps prevent you from absorbing the alcohol into your system as quickly as it delays the absorption process briefly.

Your body will still be absorbing the same amount of alcohol only it will be doing it over a different time period. As such, you may think you can drink more as you won’t feel intoxicated as quickly but it will eventually catch up with you.

Can I do things to become sober more quickly?

Sobering Up Quickly

No. There are those that believe that you can drink a lot of water to dilute the alcohol, or drink a lot of coffee to negate its effects, or even attempt to sweat the alcohol out by dancing hard. In the end, however, there is little that can sober up an intoxicated person in any significant way except time and the natural course of your bodily processes.

Can I receive a DUI the day after I’ve been drinking or doing drugs?

Getting a DUI the Day After

Yes. You can very easily still be over the alcohol limit the next day if you have had enough to drink over the course of the night. This is a common problem for people who stay out late drinking and have to get up early the next morning whether to go home or to work. The rest of this section is ok as is, except the last sentence which should be: If you plan on a night of drinking, or you did in spite of your best intentions, you should plan on not driving for some time afterwards. Drugs are likewise able to produce impairment for an extended period although the bodily process is different and produces different results.

Can I plead ignorance for driving while impaired?

Pleading Ignorance for Drunk Driving

No. Often times officers will hear people plead that they didn’t know the drinks they had earlier were alcoholic or that the percentage of alcohol in the drink was higher than they realized. Drivers may say that they didn’t realize they were impaired. You don’t necessarily have to realize that you’re over the limit established by law to be arrested and charged with DUI.

How long will a DUI stay on my record?

Length of DUI on Record

The answer depends on the state in which you’ve received a conviction. In Colorado a DUI/DWAI conviction stays on your record for life and therefore subjects you to the greater penalties associated with additional DUI/DWAI convictions. There is a national computer records system which allows prior DUI cases in other states to be seen by law enforcement in Colorado. Data entry of DUI records can be spotty in some places but most prior DUIs can be found on this computer system.

What if I am convicted of Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD)?

After UDD Conviction

If you are driving under the age of 21 and have a BAC of between .02 and .05, you may be charged with underage drinking and driving. If you are under the age of 21 and your BAC is .05 or higher, you may be charged with a standard DWAI or DUI. This may result in a conviction at court and an adverse ruling at a motor vehicle hearing. There are substantial penalties for a UDD conviction such as revocation of your driver’s license, community service, fines, classes and even jail. Penalties increase with the number of UDD convictions that a minor receives.

The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also has a substantial list of requirements for reinstatement of your license along with other considerations not set forth here. Once again, it should be noted that the refusal to take an alcohol/drug test will generally result in the imposition at DMV of a license revocation independent of the court process.

What types of driving do police officers look for when suspicious that a driver is intoxicated?

Signs of an Intoxicated Driver to Pull Over

The following list includes some of the things police officers are trained to look for as a sign that a driver should be contacted for potentially driving while impaired. Obviously erratic driving could be the result of any number of things, error included. The law allows a police officer to pull over a vehicle and contact a driver based on reasonable suspicion that a traffic law has been violated. This takes place before any blood test or formal breath test at the police facility. You may be pulled over and contacted for many things including:

  • Taking excessively wide turns
  • Riding along the center marker between lanes
  • Nearly missing or hitting other drivers or objects
  • Weaving, swerving, and drifting
  • Driving outside of lane
  • Speeding
  • Odd stops in traffic lanes or excessively braking
  • Driving too closely to another vehicle or tailgating
  • Driving in oncoming traffic lanes
  • Improper signaling or failure to signal
  • Delayed reaction time at traffic lights or stop signs
  • Driving without headlights on at night
  • Erratic acceleration and slowing down
  • Expired or unreadable license plates
  • Failure to completely stop BEFORE the white line next to a stop sign or light

What do police officers look for in a drunk driver after they’ve pulled someone over?

Signs of a Drunk Driver

  • A red or flushed face
  • Eyes that are glassy, bloodshot, or watery
  • A smell of alcohol or marijuana on the breath or in the car
  • Incoherent or slurred speech
  • Difficulty in retrieving license, registration, or insurance
  • Difficulty when exiting the vehicle
  • Inability to remain balanced while standing or walking or taking roadside tests
  • Difficulty in understanding conversation, answering questions or following directions precisely
  • An aggressive demeanor or an unduly emotional demeanor
  • Difficulty in stating the date, time, or in knowing the current location

Note: The odors of alcohol and marijuana are extremely hard to conceal and it is very likely that an officer will smell them regardless of how much you or a passenger in the car have consumed. Take this into consideration when deciding if you should drive.

Before taking a sobriety test, do I have the right to an attorney?

Right to an Attorney for Sobriety Test

No. You do not have the right to an attorney when asked to take a field sobriety test although you can refuse to take field sobriety tests. You also do not have the right to an attorney before taking a formal blood or breath test and refusing to take one of these tests because you wish to speak to an attorney will generally result in the revocation of your driver’s license.

Please note that a field alcohol screening test (which looks like an over-sized inhaler and is usually administered at the car) is a field sobriety test, not a formal breath test (which is performed on a device that looks like a computer and is usually administered at a police facility).

If I decide to take an alcohol test, should I choose a blood or formal breath test?

Blood or Breath Test

Each choice has pros and cons. A blood test can include testing for drugs, including prescription drugs, as well as alcohol. If, in fact, the police officer has probable cause to believe that a driver is impaired by drugs, with or without alcohol, the test must be of a driver’s blood. When a driver has a choice, they may want to select a breath test and avoid drug testing. A blood test, however, may be subjected to a retest by a better laboratory than the one used by the state. Your attorney can sometimes use this to great advantage in your defense.

A breath test cannot be used for drug testing but it cannot be retested to contradict its alcohol level results either. Both breath tests and blood tests have a laundry list of potential defects in their ability to produce an accurate result.

Can I receive a DUI without actually driving or moving in my vehicle?

Getting A DUI Without Driving

Yes. If you are in “actual physical control” of your vehicle you can receive a DUI/DWAI citation. The vehicle need not be running and the keys need not be turned so that the dash lights illuminate or the radio and heater work.

The law is so broad in this regard that in some cases the suspect does not need to be in the front seat and the keys do not necessarily need to be in the ignition at all. It is also possible for the officer to articulate circumstantial reasons, such as a warm hood, why he or she believes that the suspect drove recently even if driving was never witnessed. The subject of “actual physical control” carries with it a wide variety of potential arguments in defense.

Do I need to hire a DUI/DWAI attorney?

Minimize your penalties, have a plan for your court date, minimize long-term costs

Right about now you are in a difficult situation; you have just received either a DUI or a DWAI and the possible penalties of fines, license revocation, and community service or jail time are constantly occupying your thoughts.

At The Clark Law Firm we know that walking into your court date alone is an uncomfortable situation. Our goal is to assess your case and determine the best course of action to minimize penalties. We are here to navigate you through the ins and outs of the courtroom and build the best defense for your case.

What are my options for defense on my DUI case?

What should I plead? Do I have a chance to make a case?

You have received your DUI and your court date, now the question is, “What do I do now?” The first thing that every good DUI Attorney takes into consideration is your case, because every DUI is based on different circumstances. At The Clark Law Firm, our DUI lawyers have the experience of being through many cases and understanding what tactics to take and where you have options.

Probable Cause: The officer must have a valid reason for suspect, detaining, or arresting an individual.

Miranda Warning and Explanation of Rights: The Miranda Rights are required to be recited to you upon your arrest. The purpose of the Miranda Rights is to protect you from saying anything to incriminate yourself. Upon being tested for your blood alcohol content (BAC) the officer must obtain consent for the chemical test and explain penalties if the test is refused.

Witnesses to the Event: Upon being pulled over given that the officer has probable cause, it is likely that he may be bias in the testing procedure. If there are witnesses present, they are able to testify if you did or did not appear intoxicated during the procedure.

Regulation of Chemical Testing: The prosecution must prove that all equipment used in testing have gone through the proper maintenance, calibration, and have met all state requirements.

Accuracy of Blood Concentration levels: Breathalyzers can have many issues or complications, there is a standard assumption of 2100:1 ratio when converting alcohol found on the breath compared to that found in the blood. This ratio can vary greatly from person to person yielding inaccurate blood alcohol content levels.

Will receiving a DUI increase my insurance rates?

DUI and Insurance Rates

Yes. Most likely if you receive a DUI your insurance rates will rise. Insurance companies determine rates based on potential risk including a history of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What are the financial costs associated with getting a DUI?

How much will my DUI ticket cost? How will my DUI affect my insurance costs?

There are many costs associated with getting a DUI. The obvious costs are the tickets fees, fines and assessments which can range from $1,500 to $3,000. Many forget to account for the costs with insurance increases which can triple in cost per year. There are also the tow/impound fees and the fees for the DUI courses.

Don’t let these costs weigh you down; the Boulder DUI Attorney’s at The Clark Law Firm are equipped to help you in any DUI/DWAI case.

What are the possible penalties I could receive from a DUI?

How serious is a DUI? How will the penalties affect my life?

DUI/DWAI penalties vary dependent on where the incident took place. One large factor that affects the penalties is whether or not it is your first offense or if you have had multiple offenses. If you have had multiple offenses the penalties increase.

First DUI Offense in Colorado

  • Jail – From 5 Days to 1 Year
  • Fine – From $600 – $1,000
  • License Suspension – 9 Months
  • License Points – 12
  • Public Service – From 48 to 96 Hours
  • Jail May be Suspended in Lieu of Alcohol Treatment Program

First DWAI Offense in Colorado

  • Jail – From 48 Hours to 180 Days
  • Fine – From $200 to $500
  • License Suspension – None
  • License Points – 8
  • Public Service – From 24 to 48 Hours

Don’t let these penalties change your life. At The Clark Law Firm we understand the importance of having a skilled DUI lawyer with a proven track record at your side.

What about my driving privileges?

How driving privileges are affected by DUIs

If you are convicted, driving privileges could be revoked from three months to a year. In some cases you are able to apply for driving privileges that vary dependent on needs. The biggest difficulty you may face will be your commute to and from work. It is important to let your employer know you have received a DUI, in many cases they will prohibit you from driving to work even under strict driving privileges due to an increase in insurance costs and liability.

Don’t let these penalties take your license away. At The Clark Law Firm we understand the importance of having a skilled DUI lawyer with a proven track record at your side.

How long will the DUI be on my record?

Don’t add points to your driving record. Call The Clark Law Firm 303-444-4251.

The biggest question many people will ask after receiving a DUI is, “How long will the DUI be on my record?” Why does this matter? Having a DUI on your record greatly increases your insurance costs. In Colorado a DUI conviction stays on your record for good.

Is my DUI considered a felony? What does that mean?

What makes my DUI considered a felony?

Whether your DUI/DWAI is considered a felony varies from state to state. As a general rule if anyone was injured in relation to your DUI case it is considered a felony DUI. This includes any car that was impacted in relation to your DUI case and even the passenger(s) in your vehicle. If there was a death in relation to your DUI case the driver can be charged with vehicular manslaughter or even murder.

At The Clark Law Firm we understand the toughest DUI cases and our best advice is to obtain a skilled DUI lawyer to fight your case.

What is a hardship license?

Hardship Licenses

In Colorado, there is no such thing as a hardship license. There are a handful of situations in which a person may qualify for a limited probationary driver’s license with driving allowed for work, school or certain essential needs. A probationary driver’s license is generally not available in the case of a drug or alcohol revocation.

If I receive a DUI and have a commercial truck license, are there special consequences?

DUI and CDL Licenses

Yes. Commercial truck drivers are subject to higher standards and greater punishment. A listing of the special standards is beyond the scope of this article.

What is the best way to avoid a DUI?

Avoid a DUI

The best way to prevent a DUI is obviously to not drink or drug and drive under any circumstances. Even a single drink or small quantity of marijuana can impair a person’s driving ability to some degree although it may not be illegal.

Deciding whether you’re safe to drive after you’ve been drinking or drugging is problematic at best as alcohol or drugs not only inhibit your driving ability but your judgement as well. Many people who know they may be driving home try to limit themselves to a pre-determined and clearly safe amount. Pay attention, know your safe limit, and if all else fails… call a cab or a friend.

My question is not here.

I Have More Questions

We understand that every DUI/DWAI/DUID case is different this allows each aspect of your case to make a difference for your defense. Boulder lawyer Phil Clark is known for treating his clients with respect and compassion, and his clients can expect straight-forward and complete answers to their legal questions.

Call The Clark Law Firm at 303-444-4251 for a Free Consultation on your case today.