If you’ve ever been pulled over while driving in Colorado, you understand what a disconcerting experience it can be. Many people panic and try to remember where they placed their vehicle registration cards or proofs of insurance. If you’ve had a drink or two in recent hours, you might be even more nervous than the average motorist. If you have a record that includes a past DUI conviction, getting stopped again might feel like a nightmare from which you’d like to awaken.
Things to keep in mind as the situation unfolds
The most obvious way to avoid a drunk driving conviction is to abstain from alcohol before operating a motor vehicle. That said, just because you’ve enjoyed a drink or two with friends, then drove yourself home, does not necessarily mean you’ve broken the law. It’s best to remain calm if you see the police lights in your rear-view mirror. Then, keep the following in mind:
- Pull over safely: You don’t want to make matters worse by slamming on your brakes or stopping in a random place on the road. Instead, pull off to the side of the road as safely as you can and turn off your car once you come to a complete stop.
- Stay inside your vehicle: Unless the police officer instructs you to get out of your car – don’t!
- Remember the 5th Amendment: It is very true that anything you do or say from this point forward during a traffic stop can later be used to incriminate you. Although you must answer an officer’s questions regarding basic personal information, such as name or address, you also have the right to request legal representation before discussing the situation any further.
- Be polite and cooperative: Refusing to take a breath test has automatic repercussions in most states. It is typically best to be polite when communicating with the police officer who pulled you over and to cooperate as best you can, especially if he or she places you under arrest.
Every situation is different; so, even if you have a prior arrest for drunk driving on your record, it doesn’t mean your current situation will have the exact same outcome. What happens in court often hinges upon the type of defense you present.
Protect your rights
Drunk driving is a criminal offense, but at no point during a traffic stop, arrest or court proceeding do you lose your personal rights. Chemical test results can be faulty and police officers can breach regulations that govern what they may say and do as they carry out their duties. Either situation may be grounds for you to challenge the charges against you. The following are other signs of potential rights violations:
- If a law enforcement officer searched your person or vehicle without securing the appropriate authoritative permission to do so
- If the police officer who took you into custody failed to inform you of your rights
- If supposed evidence was seized during an unwarranted search
Perhaps you had a momentary lapse in judgment and do not want it to have a permanent negative effect on your future, or maybe you believe the drunk driving charges against you are unjust. A criminal defense attorney can help you by clarifying the exact laws that pertain to your situation and informing you of any options available to avoid conviction and stay out of jail. If you struggle with alcohol addiction, your attorney can provide resources for support and help you obtain the most positive outcome possible.