Common Mistakes to Avoid When Pulled Over for DUI

Categories: DUI Defense

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Pulled Over for DUI

 DUI police stops, also known as sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks, are proactive measures law enforcement agencies employ to curb driving under the influence (DUI). During these stops, officers systematically halt vehicles to assess driver sobriety and compliance with traffic laws. The stops aim to identify individuals operating vehicles while impaired by alcohol or drugs and to deter others from trying to do so. Together, traditional traffic stops and DUI checkpoints make up the vast majority of DUI arrests. So it is important to understand what you can do during a DUI stop to reduce the chance that an officer will arrest you. 

In most DUI stops, officers administer field sobriety tests and breathalyzer exams to determine if a driver’s faculties are impaired. These stops operate within legal frameworks, and their constitutionality varies by jurisdiction. While they can effectively discourage drunk driving and promote road safety, concerns about privacy, discrimination, and the balance between public safety and personal rights have sparked debates. 

Mistakes to Avoid When Pulled Over for DUI

When pulled over for a DUI in Colorado, avoiding certain mistakes is crucial to protect your rights. Wisely navigating the traffic stop can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Many experience anxiety, fear, and heightened emotions after being pulled over for a suspected DUI. And while this is perfectly understandable, unfortunately, these feelings can cause individuals to make mistakes during a traffic stop. These are some of the common DUI pull-over pitfalls that individuals make. 

Admitting to Intoxication

Avoid making statements that could incriminate you. For instance, you might think that saying you “only had two drinks” is a good idea. But it usually backfires. Most people say they only had two beers or one or two drinks, so officers don’t typically give this limiting statement much credit. Instead, they think you just admitted to drinking. We are not advising you to lie, but you do have the right to remain silent.

Volunteering Information

Only provide the necessary information. Avoid offering more details than required. You may think you can talk your way out of an arrest, but that seldom works. Volunteering information typically gets you in more trouble, as prosecutors can use anything you say against you in court. Again, you have the right to remain silent, and it is likely in your best interest to exercise this right.

Failing to Remain Calm

Maintain your composure during the stop. This may be easier to say than to do, but it is very important. The officer could perceive agitation or hostility as signs of impairment. Even if this is a misperception, it could contribute to an unfavorable impression that leads the officer to arrest you.

Performing Field Sobriety Tests

You can politely decline field sobriety tests. These tests can be subjective and challenging for anyone, even if sober. Declining might limit potential evidence against you.

Refusing Basic Cooperation

As stated, you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests with no penalty, and you can politely decline to speak without your lawyer present. However, refusing to provide identification, proof of registration, or insurance information could escalate the situation unnecessarily. 

Being Combative

Resisting arrest or arguing with officers can lead to additional criminal charges and create a negative impression. Cooperate within your rights to avoid complicating matters.

Taking Preliminary Breath Tests (PBTs)

In Colorado, you can generally refuse roadside PBTs without penalties. However, refusing official chemical tests after arrest can lead to license suspension under the state’s implied consent laws.

Consenting to a Vehicle Search

If officers lack probable cause, you have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle. Granting consent might lead to the discovery of evidence against you.

Not Documenting the Stop

Note down the details of the stop as soon as possible. Include officer names, badge numbers, time, location, and circumstances. This can help in case of procedural errors.

Not Seeking Legal Representation

DUI charges are complex. Consulting a skilled and experienced DUI attorney is crucial to protecting your rights and building a solid defense strategy.

Posting on Social Media

Avoid discussing the incident on social media. Posts can be used against you, so use great discretion.

Not Documenting Medical Conditions

If medical issues could affect your performance on tests, inform officers about them and document them for your defense.

Navigating a DUI stop in Colorado can be daunting, but staying composed, knowing your rights, and seeking legal counsel are vital to minimizing potential adverse outcomes. Every case is unique, so consulting an attorney for advice tailored to your situation is crucial.

Your Rights After Being Stopped for DUI

If stopped for DUI in Colorado, you possess certain rights that safeguard your legal standing. These rights include the following:

  • Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
  • Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring officers to have a valid reason for stopping your vehicle. This must amount to a reasonable suspicion that you were engaged in illegal activity.
  • Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination. You are not required to answer questions that could be used against you in court.
  • Implied consent laws. Colorado’s implied consent law establishes that by driving in the state, you consent to a chemical test if arrested for DUI, though you can refuse, subject to penalties like license suspension.
  • Right to counsel. The Sixth Amendment guarantees your right to an attorney during critical stages of the legal process, including DUI proceedings.
  • Due process. The Due Process Clause in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments ensures a fair legal process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Understanding these rights is crucial for protecting yourself if stopped for DUI. Consulting an attorney can help ensure your rights are upheld throughout the process.

If You Made Mistakes During a DUI Traffic Stop, We Can Help

There are a lot of mistakes to avoid when being pulled over for a DUI, and most people make at least one misstep along the way. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a viable defense to your charges. At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., we take pride in creating creative and effective DUI defense strategies, even in the toughest cases. To schedule a free consultation, give the law offices of Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., a call today. Together, we can ensure that your recent DUI arrest has as little impact on your future as possible.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.