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There's going to be a DUI crackdown for St. Patrick's Day

The Denver Post reports that law enforcement agencies across Colorado are planning to crack down on drunk drivers this St. Patrick's Day. The crackdown is part of their "The Heat Is On" enforcement campaign, which uses state and federal funding to pay officers for overtime DUI enforcement. Statewide, 87 agencies will participate.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says the enforcement period will begin today and continue until March 18 to catch people who may have had a few green beers before getting behind the wheel. This means that more people are going to get pulled over next week - whether or not they've been drinking. What should you do if you get pulled over?

What If I Get Pulled Over?

If you are stopped around the St. Patrick's Day holiday, remember that the police will be looking for signs that you're driving while impaired. They will be looking for the hallmarks of drunk driving - a driver's slurred speech or lack of coordination, the smell of alcohol or open containers - in the vehicles that they stop. So, you can expect close scrutiny from the officer during your traffic stop.

What If They Ask If I've Been Drinking?

The police will also likely be asking drivers whether they have been drinking. It's often best for people to politely decline to answer the officer's questions. Everything they say can and will be used against them in court.

We often hear from people who tell us that they were not "read their rights" before being questioned by police. The truth is that those rights - called Miranda warnings - are only legally required when the police interrogate a person in custody. A DUI traffic stop is not considered to be "in custody" by the courts. Whether or not the officer tells you that you have a right to remain silent, respectful silence is a good idea.

What About Those Roadside Tests?

Many people don't realize that the roadside tests are voluntary. Officers may ask you to walk in a straight line, balance on one foot or touch your nose with your finger, but you do not have to comply. Of course, if you refuse these field sobriety tests, you will probably be asked to take a blood or breath test.

Do I Have To Take The Breath Test?

Colorado recognizes something called "implied consent." The state believes that a driver's license is a privilege, and it is issued on the condition that a driver will submit to a blood or breath test if asked. If drivers refuse these tests, they face steep consequences including license revocation.

This may sound overwhelming, but remember that you're not the only one likely to be stopped. Close scrutiny of drivers on St. Patrick's Day is nothing new in Colorado. Last year, the police arrested more than 500 allegedly intoxicated drivers around the day. Throughout the course of the year, more than 26,000 people were arrested.

If you are arrested for DUI, contacting a lawyer is the best plan. Your lawyer can answer your questions and prepare a strong defense to any charges.

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