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Arrest of Colorado legislator driving drunk prompts police apology

As U.S. citizens, we all have certain rights against improper arrest, unreasonable search and seizure, and other constitutional rights. When driving, for example, an officer cannot pull you over without probable cause.

However, some areas of the law grant rights to certain individuals that may surprise you. For example, Colorado law grants immunity from the arrest of a lawmaker going to or from a legislative event or otherwise performing legislative duties.

This widely unknown law was brought to the public's attention on January 25, 2012, when an officer pulled over Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, for an improper lane change and illegal turn. The officer noticed the legislative plates and called for a supervisor. The officers conducted a sobriety test which revealed that Rep. Bradford was indeed intoxicated. The supervisor called a taxi for Rep. Bradford to drive her home. She has not been charged with drunk driving.

Originally, it was believed that Rep. Bradford brought up the topic of legislative immunity, creating a firestorm of public opinion that questioned whether she expected favorable treatment. However, on Jan. 31 police publicly apologized and indicated that Rep. Bradford did not ask for immunity, and that the supervisor brought up the topic first.

Rep. Bradford also told police during the incident that she had a gun in the vehicle. While she is licensed to carry a gun, it is a misdemeanor to carry a gun while intoxicated, even if licensed. Rep. Bradford did ask police to not mention the gun. The supervisor cleared the gun and left it in Rep. Bradford's vehicle.

Police are now conducting an internal investigation of the incident, and the Colorado House of Representatives is investigating Rep. Bradford for any ethics violations.

Source: PoliceOne.com, Denver police apologize for arrest of lawmaker, PoliceOne Staff, Feb. 1, 2012

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