Police stops are nerve-wracking in the best of times but become more stressful when the officer starts asking questions about the consumption of alcohol. Many drivers were raised to answer questions from an authority figure, so an officer’s direct question may get a “yes” answer. Many criminal defense attorneys advise clients to say nothing, but it can be hard not to say something.
Convictions are not automatic
Those who do admit to something may still not get arrested. There are also different degrees of penalties, some more severe than others. Here are some critical questions to consider:
- What did I admit to? Say that you did indeed admit to drinking. It is not illegal to drink alcohol and drive; it is illegal to drive when your blood alcohol level is higher than .08%. It’s important to remember that alcohol levels go down over time, some drinks are stronger than others, and a single drink likely will not put the driver over the limit.
- Did they violate my rights? Law enforcement has to have reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over. They need probable cause to arrest you. They also need to read you your Miranda warning before interrogating you. These violations are all grounds to have the admission dismissed.
- What evidence do they have? It is possible that the prosecution cannot prosecute the driver if there is no evidence beyond the admission.
- Do I qualify for ARD? Colorado has a pre-trial diversion program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). It can enable first-time offenders who are eligible to avoid severe penalties. This program can involve taking classes, going through alcohol or drug treatment, or volunteering. Completing these conditions may be enough to dismiss the pending charges.
- Can I get the charges reduced? Not everyone qualifies for ARD, but a criminal defense attorney can plea bargain on behalf of the client to have their charges and sentence reduced.
Some attorneys focus on these charges
A criminal defense attorney who regularly handles DUI charges can raise these questions or others to minimize the impact on the driver’s life, particularly if they need a vehicle to support themselves and care for their family.