Colorado residents generally understand the fact that they have rights when they are arrested and charged with a criminal offense like drunk driving. However, people can be less clear about what these rights are and when they are actually in effect, which can make it crucial to have the help of an attorney.
From the moment you are approached by a police officer, your actions and those of the officer are under a microscope. Law enforcement agents typically understand this, but they also know that you may not which can put you at a distinct disadvantage. This is why it can be so critical to examine an arrest from the very beginning to determine if your rights were violated.
For example, a man in another state was facing felony DUI charges after an officer saw him running away from his car at a bar. The officer thought the man was involved in an accident and was fleeing the scene, so the man was stopped, questioned, asked to perform field sobriety tests and ultimately detained by the officer and charged with a felony DUI. After his arrest, his blood alcohol concentration was measured at twice the legal limit.
However, the DUI charge was challenged on the grounds that the arrest was improper. There was no accident and the officer should have noticed that when he arrived on the scene. Because there was no accident, there was no reasonable suspicion that the man was drunk and fleeing from an accident scene, or that he was ever even driving.
In fact, the man said he had gone to his car to get his wallet and was running to another vehicle that was going to take him home. He was completely unaware of the officer. The charge against him was then dropped.
This case should serve as a reminder that just because you may be charged with a felony DUI does not mean you are guilty. You have the right to defend yourself and call into question the details of your arrest in an attempt to have them reduced or dismissed.
Source: Lincoln Journal Star, "Felony DUI case dismissed over bad stop in bar parking lot," Riley Johnson, May 21, 2015