The State of Colorado has a legal right to create DUI checkpoints to determine whether or not drivers are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, you still have legal rights as a driver when stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. Learn more about how to ensure your legal rights remain protected below.
Legality of DUI Checkpoints
In most cases, law enforcement must have probable cause to stop a motorist, however, since the United States Supreme Court has determined that driving while drunk or drugged is a significant threat to public safety, sobriety checkpoints are the one exception to the probable cause rule. However, there are certain guidelines that are required for Colorado sobriety checkpoints to be legal under the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Guidelines for Sobriety Checkpoints. For example, the checkpoint must post little inconvenience to the drivers, and there must be a non-discriminatory procedure determining which cars to actually stop. Additionally, all checkpoints must be announced in advance to the public.
Colorado DUI Checkpoint Procedures
Drivers should see advance warning that they are approaching a sobriety roadblock, which may include lights, signs, or police officers directing traffic. A police officer will ask you to roll down your window and provide your driver’s license and registration. Under the law, you must provide these documents. At this point, the sobriety checkpoint is similar to an ordinary traffic stop. If you smell of alcohol or drugs, if a police officer sees drug paraphernalia or empty alcohol bottles in the car, or if you show signs of intoxication or being drugged, then a standard Driving Under the Influence (DUI) process will commence. This may include field sobriety or breathalyzer tests.
Field Sobriety Tests
It is critical to note that you do not have to submit to either a field sobriety test or a preliminary alcohol screening test, also known as a breathalyzer test. You have the legal right to refuse these tests. However, if you refuse these tests, you may be arrested by the police officer, which will then require you to take a blood test. If you refuse to take a chemical test (blood test) after your arrest, you will receive an automatic revocation of your Colorado driver’s license and an official legal designation as a “persistent drunk driver” in the State of Colorado, even if this is your very first arrest for DUI.
Legal Right to Turn Around
If you see a sobriety checkpoint, you have the legal right to turn around, as long as you do so without violating any traffic laws. If you violate a traffic law, then you can be stopped and questioned by the police, just like in any normal traffic stop.
Contact an Attorney
At any point after your arrest for a DUI, you have the right to contact legal counsel. You should invoke your legal rights, and request legal counsel as soon as possible. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, contact our DUI attorneys at The Moorhead Law Group at 303-447-1400 or online today to discuss your legal options and your rights.