With the Denver Broncos going up against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, Denver-area police agencies are working on their plans for aggressively enforcing Colorado’s DUI laws on Super Bowl Sunday. For decades now, Super Bowl Sunday has been one of the top drinking days of the year in the United States, and this year football fans and television viewers will drink 325 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Forbes. That’s probably good news if you own a bar or a brewery, but if you plan to drive anywhere on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s not really good news at all.

Two years ago – the last time the Denver Broncos played in the big game – the Colorado State Patrol reported that 315 DUI arrests were made in this state over the Super Bowl weekend. More than one hundred Colorado law enforcement agencies participated in that effort. This year, Boulder Police Department spokesperson Shannon Cordingly said there will be more officers on patrol in Boulder for the 4:30 p.m. kickoff, although she offered no exact numbers. Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle also plans to increase the presence of the sheriff’s office on the county’s streets and highways. “We’re treating it like New Year’s Eve as far as staffing,” Pelle said. “It’s going to be a busy night.”

Of course, Colorado police will not be alone. Across the United States, law enforcement agencies will be cracking down on intoxicated drivers in big cities, small towns, and on the nation’s highways. Police departments will be designating special DUI patrol units, conducting sobriety checkpoints, and making plenty of arrests for driving under the influence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol played a role in 43 percent of all fatal traffic collisions on Super Bowl Sunday and the next morning in 2012.

Plenty of people are placing bets on the game, but your best bet on Super Bowl Sunday is the same advice that’s good every day of the year – Don’t Drink and Drive. If you plan on enjoying some drinks with friends while watching the Broncos and Panthers, it’s imperative to plan in advance for safe transportation. The cost of a taxi, a ride service, or a limo may be a few dollars, but it’s far less than the cost of going to jail for DUI, or going to the ER or the morgue. If there’s a genuinely trustworthy friend who will act as a designated driver, let that person drive – or consider being a designated driver yourself. The NHTSA recommends planning a safe ride to your destination – as well as planning a ride home – so that you won’t even be tempted to drive while impaired.

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WHAT IF THE POLICE STOP YOU?

While the best way to avoid DUI trouble is to avoid drinking and driving entirely, on Super Bowl Sunday police departments will be aggressively “cracking down” on impaired drivers, and they’ll be stopping many more drivers than they would normally stop on a Sunday night in February. If you are driving and an officer motions for you to pull over – or puts on the flashing red lights – pull over immediately, safely, and away from traffic. Be as friendly and as polite as possible. Place your hands on top of the steering wheel and leave them there until the officer asks for your license and registration. Don’t be the first to speak – let the law officer talk first.

After providing your license and registration, you are not required to answer any of a police officer’s questions. Simply and politely explain that you’d really just prefer to exercise your right to remain silent. Don’t give your consent to any search of your person or vehicle, but do not resist an officer or express what the police call “an attitude.” If you’re cooperative, and you are not intoxicated, there’s a good chance that you’ll simply get a warning about replacing that tail light or watching your speed.

If you are formally placed under arrest for DUI in Colorado and you are asked to take a blood, breath, or urine test, you are required to submit. Under the law, simply by driving in Colorado, you’ve already agreed to take the test if you’re asked, and if you refuse, your license will be suspended for twelve months. However, prior to being arrested, you may be asked to take a preliminary breath test, and that can put drivers in a “Catch-22” situation. If a preliminary breath test shows that your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is at 0.08 percent or higher, the officer will use that test result as evidence to arrest you and charge you with DUI. If you refuse a preliminary breath test, you will probably be arrested anyway, and then the test is mandatory.

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WHAT ABOUT DUI CHECKPOINTS?

Across the United States, thousands of motorists will be pulled over in traffic by police officers on Super Bowl Sunday, and thousands of other motorists will be stopped at DUI checkpoints. In 38 states including Colorado, DUI checkpoints – or “sobriety checkpoints” – are roadblocks where police officers detain, interrogate, and sometimes test drivers to determine if they are too intoxicated to drive. Motorists approaching DUI checkpoints are screened at random and they may be asked to submit a to preliminary breathalyzer test. Law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado and the rest of the nation will be conducting DUI checkpoints more or less everywhere – in the 38 states where the operations are legal – on the day of the Super Bowl.

State law in Colorado recognizes two different drunk driving charges. DUI – Driving Under the Influence – is the charge when a driver’s BAC level measures at 0.08 percent or higher. DWAI — Driving While Ability Impaired – is the charge when a driver’s BAC level measures at 0.05 percent or higher, but below 0.08 percent. A DUI or DWAI charge in Colorado is serious, and if you are convicted, the consequences can be severe. Any arrest for DUI or DWAI is a genuine threat to your freedom and your future. If you are charged anywhere in the United States with DUI – on Super Bowl Sunday or on any other day – contact a good DUI lawyer at once, and in the Denver and Boulder areas, contact an experienced Denver DUI attorney immediately. You’ll need to be represented by a knowledgeable, seasoned DUI defense lawyer who routinely helps clients facing DUI and DWAI charges.

You also need to know that if you are prosecuted for DUI in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) conducts its own hearing – entirely apart from your criminal DUI case – about your driving privilege. After a DUI arrest in Colorado, the DMV may place restrictions on your license or revoke it entirely. Obviously, if you must drive for work, school, or childcare, you need to retain your driving privilege. An experienced Denver DUI defense attorney can explain the DMV process, guide you through it, and fight to help you keep your license.

A first conviction for DWAI in Colorado is punishable with 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, and additional penalties. A first conviction for DUI in Colorado is punishable with a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and other penalties. Naturally enough, subsequent DUI and DWAI convictions are punished with harsher penalties. With the possibility jail for a DUI or DWAI conviction, it’s imperative to have a good DUI lawyer working on your behalf and protecting your legal rights while bringing your DUI case to its best possible resolution.

Denver DUI attorney

WHAT WILL A DUI LAWYER DO?

Your DUI attorney will gather evidence in your defense, interrogate witnesses, and consider each possible defense strategy. Your attorney may challenge the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy of any DUI test. If there’s any weakness or flaw in the case against you, an experienced DUI defense attorney will find that weakness or flaw and use it in your defense. If the case against you is “airtight” and the evidence against you is overwhelming, your DUI lawyer will still fight hard for a reduced sentence or for alternative sentencing. A good DUI attorney will discuss the case with you in detail and recommend the choices that are best in your specific legal situation.

Super Bowls are supposed to be fun, and if the Broncos win this year’s game, there will be plenty of joy and festivities in the Denver area. But for far too many people, their memories of Super Bowl Sundays from the past are less than pleasant. When NFL tight end Delanie Walker played in the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, his aunt and uncle, Bryan and Alice Young, watched from the stands. The Youngs were killed on their way home from the game by an allegedly drunk driver. Walker now speaks on behalf of DUI education and awareness-raising. He says, “I just want to make people more aware through my story.”

While DUI conviction rates are high in many states, savvy and experienced DUI lawyers win cases on behalf of their clients in every state in the nation, every day the courts are in session. If you are accused of driving under the influence on Super Bowl Sunday – or any other day of the year – protecting your rights, your freedom, and your future immediately become your top priorities. A good DUI lawyer will defend your rights and work diligently for the best possible end to your case. After any arrest for DUI – anywhere in the United States – contact a good DUI lawyer immediately, and in Denver, Boulder, or anywhere else in Colorado, speak at once with an experienced Denver DUI attorney. Stay safe, enjoy the game, and if you need legal help regarding a DUI charge, don’t wait to make the call.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.