When pulled over by law enforcement, the laws regarding individual rights are complicated, and drivers may not even realize they apply. For example, Colorado drivers automatically consent to a chemical test during a traffic stop when issued their Colorado driver’s license. Those that refuse to take the test will face severe penalties, including a one-year suspension as well as the other consequence from a DUI charge.
Probable cause is subjective
The officer must have probable cause to administer the test legally, and this is where things get complicated and subjective. There is often a debate in court whether the officer had probable cause to conduct a traffic stop.
The officer theoretically could pull over a driver randomly and then go fishing for probable cause, saying something along the lines that they were “unsteady on their feet,” “slurred their words” or “their eyes were red,” which are red flags that mean reasonable suspicion, which prompts them to administer a test. Nonetheless, the officer doesn’t know:
- The driver’s vocal cadence
- Whether the driver has allergies or isn’t getting enough sleep
- Whether the driver has a hard time standing still when nervous
Arrests can have technical issues
The law tries to address the subjective nature of probable cause and reasonable suspicion. Even with express consent, the circumstances behind every stop will be different. So, it is often essential to work with a skilled defender to determine the validity of the stop and test. It can be the difference between severe penalties and have the case tossed out of court.