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How is a preliminary test relevant in a Colorado DUI/DWI case?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2021 | Drunk Driving

When there is an investigation and an arrest for driving under the influence in Colorado, those facing charges will immediately think about the potential consequences for a conviction. The evidence law enforcement and prosecutors use frequently involves the results of a breathalyzer or a blood test.

For example, if a person submits to the breathalyzer and registers at least 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), he or she is considered drunk and will face DUI charges. However, there are other areas of a case that can be critical to a defense. It is important to be cognizant of potential aspects in which the charges can be called into question and help with the defense.

What does the law say about a preliminary screening test?

The preliminary test is conducted before the breathalyzer or chemical test. There are certain criteria that must be met with the preliminary test before advancing to other testing procedures. The interaction between the law enforcement officer and the driver must be lawful and there needs to be reasonable suspicion that the driver might be under the influence. The device for the preliminary test is a portable breathalyzer used to gauge the driver’s BAC.

Drivers should know that they are not required to submit to this test and are not vulnerable to a charge of refusing a breath test for not submitting to it. The officer is required to inform the driver that refusal is permissible.

For those under 21, they can be given the test after they have been forewarned provided the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has consumed alcohol. The preliminary test results can be used as a determinative factor for the next phase of the investigation to proceed. This may include an official breathalyzer test to determine the BAC. These results will be used as evidence, but the preliminary results will not. This is a crucial point.

Questioning the evidence is a key part of an effective defense

Not every DUI/DWI case is obvious and there might be confusion as to whether the officer adhered to the law when investigating. In some circumstances, it could be scrutinized to determine if the subsequent test was justified.

Even if the preliminary test was conducted based on the law, there are still available avenues to fight the charges and seek a positive outcome. This is vital to avoid the harsh penalties a driver might face for a conviction including a driver license suspension, fines and even jail. Having assistance from the start can be helpful with plotting a course of action.