How a traffic stop can turn into a DUI arrest

Colorado law enforcement officials consider driving under the influence a serious matter. With the high amount of tourism, out-of-town motorists could find themselves pulled over for swerving or driving erratically when merely lost. 

As reported by the Vail Daily, a highway patrol officer can make a vehicle stop and arrest a motorist for a DUI if three conditions exist. Without these factors present, however, a charge may not result in a conviction. 

Violation of an ordinary traffic law 

Officers have the authority to pull over a motorist observed breaking a traffic law. Whether observed speeding, hitting objects or running a red light, a driver can expect an officer to make a vehicle stop. In most cases, the driver receives a ticket, pays the fine, and incurs points on his or her driver’s license. 

Unusual behavior while in an officer’s presence 

When interacting with a motorist during a traffic stop, an officer looks for specific signs of possible impairment. When asking to see a driver’s license and vehicle registration, the officer may take notice of a motorist’s response time. 

Confusion or inability to respond normally may raise an officer’s suspicion that intoxication may have caused the driver to violate the traffic law. If the officer detects an odor of alcohol or a motorist has a difficult time speaking coherently, law enforcement has reasonable cause to check for impairment. 

Positive roadside sobriety test results 

Under the Centennial State’s traffic laws, an officer may ask a motorist to perform a field sobriety test when observable signs show possible impairment. An individual may need to walk a straight line and turn around or stand still on one leg. If a motorist shows difficulty performing the required actions, an officer may request a roadside breath test. 

Although they contribute to many DUI arrests, roadside devices used to determine a motorist’s blood alcohol content level have shown false positives. A test result could show a false over-the-limit BAC, which then allows an officer to make an arrest. A motorist, however, may contest the charge if he or she believes the test provided an inaccurate result.