The Colorado Department of Transportation is reporting that Colorado law enforcement made 14% fewer DUI arrests over this New Year holiday than last year. This decrease in DUI arrests tracks a reduction in the number of fatalities as well. Additionally, the decreased DUI arrests over the New Year holiday tops off a year that saw 28% fewer DUI arrests than last year.
The Heat is On is a grant funded program that allows law enforcement to increase their DUI patrols during those times when there may be an increased risk of people drinking and driving. The program is actually funded in part by people who are charged and convicted of alcohol related driving offenses, including DUI and DWAI. Not every agency participates in the program, but if the law enforcement agency in your neighborhood does participate, increased patrols means an increased chance of being stopped. This is true whether you have been drinking or not.
Before an officer ever begins a DUI investigation, the patrol officers need reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop. An officer can stop a driver for something as minor as not having properly working license plate lamps, failure to use a turn signal when changing lanes or taking a turn too fast. Observing a traffic infraction such as these, in and of itself, is not indicative of drunk driving, but does give an officer authority to stop the driver. Once the officer stops the driver, the officer will have the opportunity to speak with the driver, observe the driver and even ask some questions. It is generally during this phase of the traffic stop that officers begin to suspect that a driver is DUI.
DUI investigations must be conducted in accordance with certain constitutional guidelines. If an investigation is not conducted properly, it may result in suppression of evidence. When evidence is suppressed, the court prohibits the prosecution from using certain evidence against the driver. Sometimes, if enough evidence is suppressed, it may result in a dismissal. For this reason, it is important to consult an attorney who is able to review and recognize these issues.