Free Consultation (970) 485-2261

How may a routine traffic stop lead to a DUI charge?

Posted on May 4, 2020

Colorado law enforcement may pull over your vehicle based on observable signs of a traffic violation or unusual driving behavior. Swerving or stopping unnecessarily may attract an officer’s attention. What happens next could have a significant effect on your driving privileges. 

A first-time offense with a high blood alcohol content level may result in at least five days in jail and a license suspension of 90 days. Until a fourth offense, a DUI will remain on your record as a misdemeanor. Three prior convictions, however, bring a DUI charge up to the felony level. 

Pulling over and speaking with the officer 

If an officer suspects impairment while making personal contact with you during a traffic stop, he or she may proceed to determine whether alcohol is an issue. The signs an officer looks for include slurred speech, odors of alcohol and noticeable confusion when answering questions or providing vehicle paperwork. Based on a reasonable belief of your impairment, an officer may request a field sobriety test. 

Failing a standard field sobriety test 

Failing one or more of the requested driver maneuvers in a standard roadside sobriety test may indicate impairment. If you have had too much to drink, the officer may notice your eyes jerking during the horizontal gaze portion of the test, or you may stumble during the walk-and-turn part. You may also be unable to perform the one-leg stand. 

Based on the field sobriety test and the verbal interactions that preceded it, the officer may decide to make an arrest. You must then choose whether you would prefer to submit to either a breath or blood chemical-analysis test. 

Providing advance consent 

Submitting to the chemical BAC test does not require a driver’s consent. You have already given your implied consent to a chemical test by filling out a driver’s license application. The arresting officer must, however, have good reason to suspect actual impairment before requesting the test. 

In Colorado, you may decide to refuse to submit to the chemical test. Doing so, however, could result in a one-year loss of your driver’s license.