1. Police Can’t Pull You Over Without Reasonable Suspicion
A Loveland, Fort Collins, or Estes Park police officer must have a legal reason for pulling you over for any traffic crime, including Driving Under the Influence. According to law, this is called “reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.” Additionally, if they want to arrest you, they must have probable cause. In DUI traffic stops, probable cause is based on your driving (swerving, missing stop signs, erratic behavior) and observations of your behavior after you’ve been pulled over. Because of this, we advise people to limit interaction with the police officer: Only roll down your window a few inches, be polite, have your insurance and registration ready to hand through the crack of the window, and don’t get out of your car. Finally, never agree to perform voluntary roadside maneuvers or tests, and never give a Portable Breath Test (PBT) sample beside the road.
2. Field Sobriety Tests (Roadside Maneuvers) Aren’t Always Reliable
Roadside maneuvers include tests such as the walk and turn, one leg stand, saying the ABC’s backwards, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. Each of these tests is used by the officer to determine a person’s level of intoxication. The problem with field sobriety tests is that each one can be failed for reasons other than drinking too much alcohol. We believe it is inappropriate when an officer’s decision to arrest someone is based on ambiguous test results. Never take these voluntary tests.
3. Don’t Refuse a Blood or Breath Test: You’ll Lose Your License
Refusing an Express Consent test (blood or breath test) is a big deal. Colorado’s Express Consent law requires that anyone with a driver’s license has agreed to submit to a blood or breath test after they have been arrested for a DUI or DWAI. If you refuse to submit to the blood or breath test, you will automatically lose your privilege to drive in Colorado for an entire year. It is never a good idea to refuse to take the Express Consent test.
4. You Aren’t Necessarily Drunk if You’re Over the Legal Limit (0.08 BAC)
The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08. Most people assume if you are over the limit, you are drunk. This is not true. There are many people who are able to perform roadside maneuvers at the .08 level and not stagger or have slurred speech. Alcohol affects each person differently. Some people have a high tolerance for alcohol and thus will be able to complete field sobriety tests at levels higher than .08. Because of this, it is never a good idea to plead guilty to DUI or DWAI. Your case isn’t over if your BAC level was .08 or higher. An experienced DUI / DWAI lawyer will be able to evaluate every angle of your case. A good lawyer understands the .08 BAC is a “permissible inference” and can be refuted in court.
5. Good Lawyers Aren’t Cheap: But Cheap Lawyers are Pricey
You get what you pay for when you hire a cheap lawyer. This is especially true when it comes to DUI and DWAI charges. Inexpensive lawyers have low rates because they have a lot of clients. They simply can’t put much effort into each case. A cheap attorney will get your first payment, plea bargain the case without looking in depth at possible defenses, and move onto the next client. Many of these lawyers make promises without seeing any evidence in order to “snag” the client.
- Unethical Methods: Many inexpensive lawyers in Larimer County use unethical methods to secure clients. They pay people like EMT personnel, the police, bail bondsmen or car-impound workers to recommend them. Paying for recommendations violates the Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct.
- Ethical Methods: Good lawyers are professional, and get recommendations by providing excellent service. They provide excellent service by taking the time to evaluate and investigate each case. A good attorney will gather police reports, order medical records, find video, collect witness statements, and hire expert witnesses to validate evidence. District Attorneys and prosecutors in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Johnstown courts know which lawyers will fight for justice, and which ones will give up a conviction to avoid putting too much work into a case. In the long run, a cheap lawyer will cost you an enormous amount of money and frustration.
6. Don’t Hire an Attorney Who Wants You to Plead Guilty Quickly
DUI and DWAI attorneys should wait until all the evidence in a DUI case is received. Evidence often trickles in slowly, and an experienced attorney will wait until they have all the evidence to enter a plea. In some cases, you may get a better plea agreement if you delay for a while. Court dockets are crowded, and an assault case or a domestic relations case will be more compelling for trial than your DWAI / DUI case. Crowded dockets create busy District Attorneys who can’t take the time to take every case to trial.
7. You Can Beat a DUI / DWAI Stop: Even with BAC Evidence Against You
Many people believe if a BAC / Express Consent test result shows that their blood alcohol content level is over the legal limit, there is nothing they can do to avoid conviction. An experienced DUI attorney knows that even with an illegal BAC limit, a DUI or DWAI conviction can be beat. For example, we look at the following aspects of your situation:
- Was the Traffic Stop Legal? If a police officer pulled you over for no reason (there was not “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity), often the case can be dismissed.
- Was there Enough Evidence for Probable Cause? The case may be dismissed if the police officer did not have enough evidence to prove there was probable cause to arrest you for DUI / DWAI.
- Was the Express Consent Law Read Correctly? Not reading the law correctly is a common error among police officers in Wellington, Berthoud, and Windsor in DUI / DWAI cases.
- Was the Intoxilizer 9000 Test Accurate? If the breath test machine or blood testing records are deleted, corrupted, incomplete, or lost, we are often able to get cases dismissed.
- Have Breath Tests Been Examined by the Jury? The science of breath testing is inherently flawed. When these weaknesses are exposed, jurors often have doubt about the results.
8. The Intoxilyzer 5000 and 9000: Breath Testing Problems
The Intoxilyzer breath test machine is flawed. There are assumptions which are programmed into it.
- Body Temperature Not Taken Into Account: The first flaw is the assumption that a person’s body temperature is standard. It doesn’t take into account if the person doing the test has a fever or is cold-blooded. Each degree difference changes a percentage in the breath test result.
- Human Alcohol Partitioning: The Intoxilyzer is programmed to produce a breath alcohol reading which corresponds to a simultaneous blood alcohol example. For example, this assumes that 210 liters of breath contain the exact same amount of alcohol has 100 milliliters of blood. The problem with this assumption is that the partitioning of alcohol from the blood into the breath is 2100:1 – for every 2100 parts of ethanol in the blood there is 1 part in the breath.
Everyone’s body partitions alcohol from their blood differently – ratios for partitioning vary from 834:1 to 1:3400. Body weight, sex, and other things affect the partitioning ratio. The Intoxilyzer breath testing machine doesn’t test each person’s individual blood to breath partition ratio. Instead, it simply assumes a value of 2100:1. This creates a flawed result, because we don’t know an individual’s partition rate at the time the breath test was taken. The Intoxilyzer 9000 is flawed and creates inaccurate results.
9. Mandatory Jail May Not Be Necessary for a First Time DUI Arrest
According to Colorado statute, the minimum punishment for a first DUI / DWAI offense is ten days in jail. But, many people aren’t aware that a judge is allowed to suspend this jail time if a person submits to an alcohol evaluation and submits to their recommendations. It is common for first time DUI and DWAI offenders to spend no time in jail.
10. Don’t Help the District Attorney and Police Convict You
There are some things (like the Express Consent BAC test) which you are required to do once you have been arrested for a DUI / DWAI. However, there are a few things which will only help you get convicted. Here are a few things not to do:
- Don’t talk about how much you have had to drink
- Don’t volunteer to take a Portable Breath Test (PBT)
- Don’t do any of the roadside maneuvers
- Don’t answer the question of the police regarding your drinking
- Don’t roll down your window and give the officer the opportunity to smell your breath
- Don’t get out of the car, unless you are ordered to be placed under arrest
- Don’t talk about where you are going, or where you were driving from.
Why You Need a Fort Collins DUI / DWAI Defense Attorney
Having a DUI or alcohol conviction on your record is a bad reflection on your character. You could have a difficult time finding a job, or could lose your license. Don’t let a bad decision or the misjudgment of an over-eager police officer ruin your future. If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Ability Impaired in Larimer County, don’t hesitate to contact a DUI attorney who will fight to protect your future.