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Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint in Colorado: A Guide

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Posted By McAdams Law | September 1 2022 | DUI

To curb individuals driving while intoxicated, police in Colorado may set up a sobriety checkpoint to catch drunk or high drivers. 

But what is a sobriety checkpoint, and how do you act appropriately at one? We’ll discuss all this and more in this guide. If you have any specific questions about your case details, contact a Greeley DUI attorney to set up a free case evaluation. 

Definitions of Drunk Driving in Colorado

According to the Office of Legislative Legal Services, the two offenses of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Driving with a breath alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater or with a blood content of five nanograms or more THC per milliliter. It can also be a combination of the two.
  • Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI): Driving with a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 and showing impairment to the “slightest degree so that the person is less able to drive.” There is no indication of the threshold for THC.

How are DUI Checkpoints legal in Colorado? 

The Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that temporary sobriety checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. As long as a sobriety checkpoint doesn’t delay individuals without evidence of impairment or trigger a vehicle search without evidence, a standard checkpoint is likely to be legal. 

What Happens at a DUI Checkpoint

Here’s what likely will happen when you pull up to a Colorado DUI checkpoint::

  1. You will see warning equipment signaling you in advance of the checkpoint.
  2. Pull out your license, registration, and other supporting materials in advance, as it is legally mandated to do so. 
  3. When you roll down your window, the officer will greet you and ask you something like, “have you consumed any alcohol today?”
  4. You may choose how or if to answer.
  5. If the officer finds no evidence to detain you, they will let you pass through. 
  6. You may be asked to perform field sobriety tests and/or chemical tests if the officer finds enough suspicion to detain you for driving under the influence. This is why it is critical to understand your rights.

What Are Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint?

Police do not have to give you a reminder of your Miranda rights, but you still have them. 

While you do have the right to remain silent at a DUI checkpoint, they are not required to inform you of such as you are not in custody as a suspect. 

You can legally turn around to avoid a sobriety checkpoint. 

In Colorado, it is perfectly legal to perform a u-turn to avoid a checkpoint. Police are not allowed to follow you or consider your turning around to be an admission of guilt. However, this u-turn must be performed legally. If you perform it illegally, you can be cited for it, and the police may interrogate you.

Officers cannot make you take field sobriety tests or breath tests unless you are taken into custody. 

All preliminary sobriety tests can be declined with no consequences. However, if the officers suspect you are intoxicated, they can arrest you and compel you to take them. After you are arrested, these tests are now considered evidentiary. Do not refuse these tests, as they can cause an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, among other penalties. A Greeley license reinstatement attorney can help you navigate this process. 

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