Colorado DUI Stops – Knowing Your Rights – Being Smart
By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado DUI – DWAI – DUID Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney
Colorado DUI Stops – Knowing Your Rights – Being Smart. Knowing your rights and exercising your rights in the context of a Colorado DUI investigation – are two very different things. This article explains what you should do if you are stopped by Colorado police officers on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving.
Actually Understanding The Right To Remain Silent – And “Using” That Right Properly
This is first because if is the most important rule – If you are questioned by the police in Colorado
Say as little as possible. Don’t answer the officers questions that are unrelated to the production of your driver’s license, your registration and your proof of insurance. After providing these documents STOP TALKING. You have the right to remain silent SO USE IT! You cannot and will not be punished for refusing to answer incriminating questions.
Colorado DUI Stops – Knowing Your Rights – Being Smart – DUI Investigations Mean Building A Case Against You
The physical observations made by the arresting officer – taken from standard “Alcohol Influence Report forms” or similar lists are used by the police to make notes about your appearance, your behavior, and – most importantly ANY potentially incriminating statements that come out of your mouth.
Never agree to answer any questions about how much you had to drink – where you were coming from – when you took your last drink and the like. If you are arrested after refusing to answer the officer’s questions and you are asked – under Colorado’s Express Consent Law to take a test – you do not have a right to speak with your lawyer or anyone else before making this decision. My recommendation – take the test but refuse to answer ANY other questions and NEVER NEVER NEVER DO THE ROADSIDE SOBRIETY TESTS – NEVER!
Once again – In a Colorado DUI – DUID – DWAI Cases – Never Do The Field Sobriety Tests. The officer will always ask you to perform “physical coordination” tests, to build a case against you – these tests are purely voluntary and actually designed for failure. Never – Ever take them! You cannot be legally punished for refusing to perform them.
If You Were Driving or NOT Driving – Never Take A Portable Breath Test At The Scene
The Personal Breath Testing Device or PDT – should also always be refused. This is especially true if you are underage. Whether you were the driver or not – the PBT is a voluntary test – meaning it is NOT the mandatory Express Consent Law test described below.
If you were not the driver of the car – you do not have to take EITHER test.
The police try to use the portable breath testing device to build a case for probable cause to make an arrest. But they cannot compel you to blow into the PBT and also cannot prosecute you if you refuse it to blow into it.
ALL POLICE STOPS
The following suggestions apply to ALL Police Stops
Always Stay Calm During The Investigation – Never Lose Your Composure
Never run or drive away, that only makes a bad situation much worse. If you run – the police draw inference that you are armed or that you are guilty of the crime they suspect you have committed. Also if you are caught – you may be injured, tazed or more force than necessary to restrain you may be applied.
Many police officers actually prefer that you run – a misdemeanor investigation turns felony when you flee and the Colorado crime of felony eluding is chargeable at that point.
By running – you make a possible misdemeanor charge – a serious felony.
Never Argue, Resist Arrest, or Obstruct The Investigation By The Police
If you know you are innocent, or if you feel you are being treated gruffly or inappropriately, that your constitutional rights are being violated – you must wait for your day in court to go after the police. Fighting with the officer not only will not change his-her mind, it can elevate the case to a felony level if contact is made. Either resisting arrest or second degree assault can be filed depending on the nature of the physical contact.
Never not touch a police officer. Not only can you be charged.. You can be tazed.
Always Act In A Polite And Cooperative Way As You Exercise Your Rights
Never threaten the police – never try to influence his or her decision. Just allow the process to take place without answering any of the officer’s questions. Think of it this way – during World War II – if you were captured by the enemy ir was “name rank and serial number.” Here it is drivers license – insurance card and registration… along with I want lawyer and I am remaining silent.
By being rude to the officer you have done nothing to benefit your case. Don’t threaten him or her with such things as a friend in the “force” or a big time lawyer that will make the officer suffer later. This approach demeans you and your cause. Just shut up.
What Is Your Status (At Any Point) – Are You Free to Leave? Are you Under Arrest? Find Out!
Always ask – repeatedly – “Am I in custody? Am I under arrest? Am I free to leave?” If the officer says you are not any of these things – leave quietly.
On the other hand – if you are under arrest or being detained – you have the right to know why.
Politely ask the officer why you are being arrested or detained. This will give you the valuable information you need to know about what to do next.
Never Concede – Never Consent To ANY KIND Of A Search
A search incident to arrest means that after an arrest – the police can search you. If the situation is dangerous (they reasonably believe you may have a potential weapon) – the officer may also have a right to pat you down (LINK). BUT the police never have the right to search physically search you in the absence of those 2 situations.
Never give the police permission to perform to either do a “pat-down search” or to search oour body in any way.
If You Are In Your Car And Driving And The Police Stop Your Car – Here IS What To Do
1. In A Safe Way – Quickly Stop the Car
– Turn your vehicle off and remove the keys. If it is at night – turn on the inside dome light, roll down the window part way and put your hands on the steering wheel at “10 and 2.” These actions tell the officer you are sensitive to his order fears and are doing your best to be non-threatening. It could mean the difference between a ticket and a warning.
2. If Requested Silently Hand the Officer ALL Of The Requested Documents
– Colorado law permits the police to see your license, registration, and insurance upon request – quiclly and silently give them up..
3. As Noted Above – Never Consent to a Search of the Car
– While the so called “automobile exception” to the search warrant requirement means it is more likely the police will have legal grounds to search your car than your home, you still have a right to privacy in your vehicle.
If the police ask you to search – never give it – never. If they had the legal right to search your car they would not ask. If they threaten you with “getting a warrant” respond politely – I guess that is what you will need to do?” If they say they will get the “drug dogs” – let them – “do whatever they think they can legally do.” You are not consenting to anything. “You’re not searching my car.””
4. If You Are Ordered Or Asked to Exit Your Car – Immediately Get Out
– In Colorado – the police have the right to order you out of your car… but do NOT jump the gun – wait until you are asked – ordered to do so. If the officer tells you to get out of your car – do not delay- do not make any “furtive” (questionable or threatening) movements and calmly and slowly open the car door and step out.
5. Don’t Argue With The Officer Over The Facts, Your Rights, Or The Law
– The expression “not the time or the place” has never been more appropriate. Refusing to leave your car means the police can either order you out a gunpoint or forcefully drag you out of your car. On the other hand – if the officer instructs you to remain in your car – stay in your car! By immediately jumping out of your car – the officer will perceive this as a threat to his or her safety. The officer may also think that you are trying to distract the officer from something illegal that may be hidden in your car.
6. You AND Your Passengers Have The Right – And You Should Remain Silent
– Not only can a person suspected of committing a crime remain silent – witnesses in the form of passengers also have that right. As described above – answer ONLY the questions you must and nothing more. Questions such as where you just came from, what your actions have been over the last few hours, how much and what you have had to drink and the like are NOT the kinds of questions you have to answer.
Simply respond – “I am exercising my right to remain silent and I want a lawyer.” Unless you are asked whether you wish to – under Colorado’s Express Consent Law to take or not to take “the test.” That is the question you must answer. You are not entitled to remain silent or to the advice of a lawyer before answering this question.
If The Police Come Knocking On The Door To Your Home
The right to privacy in your home is the most precious right there is. It is sacrosanct and inviolate. If the police come to your door without a warrant either a search warrant or an arrest warrant – do NOT – under any circumstances – let them in.
There are few exceptions to the warrant requirement under the 4th Amendment. Here is what usually happens. The police come to your door – they have REDDI report (a tip) that someone driving your vehicle was weaving all over the road. They do not have a warrant to enter your home and they ask to come in to talk to you.
If they are asking it means they do not have legal grounds to enter on their own. The threat “if you don’t let us in -we’ll just go get a warrant” is just that – an empty threat. Respond with – “then go ahead and get your warrant but you are not coming into my home without one.
If the police try break in – let them – do not block their way or try to physically stop them. Your lawyer will handle this violation of your rights later in court.
The Police Have The Legal Right To Lie – Never Believe the Police
In Colorado – the police are permitted to lie to you in order to build a case. They use lie to gather evidence against you and may lie to manipulate you into giving them permission to search you, your home, or your vehicle. This raises legal questions as to the vountariness of your consent to the search which – again – are addressed by your lawyer later in court.
“It will go much better for you with the judge if you let me search your house”;
“If you admit the …alcohol.. the drugs are yours – I will convey your cooperation to the DA.”
“Your buddy over there snitched you out – you might as well admit the drugs are yours.”
Good luck – and always call me if you need a lawyer.
Colorado DUI Stops – Knowing Your Rights – Being Smart
Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Direct Email [email protected]
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H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing only in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. So call now for an immediate free phone consultation.
Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases. Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defenses for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving …Colorado DUI Stops – Knowing Your Rights – Being Smart.