Driving while ability impaired (DWAI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are complex, confusing charges that can result in criminal penalties and sanctions from the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles. Naturally, being charged with either one of these offenses can be very stressful, and you may not know what to do next.
In most situations, your next move should be to speak to an experienced DUI lawyer. They will investigate your case and work to build a defense in your case. One particular area of concern for many DUI attorneys is the sobriety tests you took as these can be contaminated or not performed correctly by law enforcement, which will affect your results.
Sobriety tests come in three forms
There are generally three types of sobriety tests used in DUI and DWAI investigations: the field sobriety test, the breath test and the blood test. Most investigations involve the use of two or more tests.
If you’ve ever watched a police TV show, you’ve likely seen someone give a field sobriety test. Also known as a “roadside” test, this is where an officer will ask you to do some activity that’s aimed at allowing them to observe your speech patterns, reaction time, coordination and cognitive function. Usually, the officers will ask you to do tests that are set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While the NHTSA details the difference between how an unimpaired and impaired person will perform, it’s still up to the officer giving the tests to decide what is passing and what is failing. Any observations made by the officer during these tests can be used against you in court later.
A breath test, more widely known as the breathalyzer, is meant to measure the alcohol present in your breath, and this figure is then used in a formula to estimate your blood-alcohol content (BAC). Since the number produced by these devices is an estimate, it’s open to inaccuracy right out of the gate. Various factors can influence the outcome of this test, so although it is convenient for officers because it can be done at the side of the road, it’s open to misleading results.
Last but certainly not least, a blood test will measure the actual amount of alcohol in your blood. It is the one way to an accurate BAC result, but it’s less convenient, more expensive and more time-consuming than a breathalyzer. Naturally, this is the test that is most difficult to challenge in court, but mistakes can and have been made with these types of draws.
If you were charged with DWAI or DUI, seek legal help as soon as possible as you may be facing fines, a prison sentence and the loss of your right to drive. Your criminal defense lawyer in Denver, CO will take a look at your case and guide you throughout the legal process. At this stressful time with so much on the line, it makes sense to have an experienced attorney by your side.
Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and sobriety tests.