Russell Hebets Jan. 28, 2015

DUI Cases in Colorado

Not a week goes by where a client doesn’t ask me, “Should I have taken the voluntary roadside maneuvers?” Well unfortunately, the answer is, “Yes, you really probably shouldn’t have taken those.” They’re voluntary, for one. It’s in the name. The fact is that by the time the police get to this test, it’s extremely likely that they are taking you in anyway on suspicion of DUI. The tests themselves are designed to make you fail, really. They are divided attention tests, meaning the officer is testing your ability to do multiple things at the same time while also following the instructions of the police officer. For example, they’re designed to have you stand with your feet together and your your arms at your side to give you as little base of balance as possible. And while you might think they’re just looking to see if you can track a pen or walk in a straight line, they’re actually looking to see if your eyes are bouncing a little bit or if you miss heel to toe by half an inch or if you lift up your arms by an inch. So, any of those things are clues and that’ll make them say you failed.

Voluntary roadside maneuvers

You may say, well, I felt fine enough to do them, and I figure they will convince the cop that I am sober, right? Wrong. The officer already believes you are under the influence of something by having you do the maneuvers. By completing these voluntary maneuvers, you are allowing the officer to subjectively build a case against you, while you are under the mistaken belief that you are exonerating yourself. The officer is the one who decides whether or not you pass- it doesn’t matter whether you think you can do them, or if you think afterward that you performed them well.

Complex and Require a Lot of Instruction

Also, the maneuvers themselves are complex and require a lot of instruction. Include the factors that they are usually done at the side of the road near on-coming traffic, usually at night, with a police officer who has a blinding light pointed at your eyes watching your every move. This is a recipe for failure. It’s hard to imagine a more nerve-wracking police encounter. Even though some police cars are equipped with dashboard cameras, most in Colorado are not, which means that it’s the police officer’s word against your own. These maneuvers are only designed to detect alcohol. They were not designed to detect marijuana or other drugs, prescription or otherwise. Yet, police still utilize them to detect any sort of impairment. The fact is, you can be as sober as can be and still fail these voluntary roadside maneuvers. So do yourself a favor, just don’t take them. There is no penalty for refusing them, and they will rarely help you.