The irony is strong with this one.
Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon is a politician from Denver. Through his efforts, Colorado added stricter penalties for people who drive under the influence, which includes making them appear in front of a DUI victim-impact panel. Now, following a drunk driving arrest, he will have to pay the consequences that he helped put into law.
A police officer’s body camera captured the entirety of the arrest, which occurred on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day 2016. When asked if he’d been drinking, Pabon admitted that he’d had “a drink or two” of beer. The officer asks permission to do roadside tests. He declined, and then let the officer know that he is a state representative.
The officer was not impressed. Pabon later consented to the voluntary roadside tests, which consisted of following a light with his eyes, walking on a line heel-to-toe and balancing on one foot with the other held about six inches above the ground.
The officer suspected that the Rep. had a “slight” impairment and asked him to take a breathalyzer. Pabon consented and blew a .14, nearly twice the legal limit. He was then arrested, despite Pabon’s offer to take an Uber, or have his wife come get him. He even asked if the officer could “put a call into [his] supervisor or the city’s attorney?” The officer said that both of those parties will be notified, and Pabon correctly stated that “This is going to change my life now.”
In mid-July, Pabon pleaded guilty to drunk driving and was sentenced to a year of probation, which includes community service court costs, monitored sobriety, alcohol education and attending the victim impact panel that he helped create.
What Not to Do When Pulled Over for a DUI in Colorado
The officer’s video of the arrest (which you can watch here) gives you a great idea of what you can expect if you’re ever pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. Two things to keep in mind when you’re pulled over:
- The roadside tests and preliminary breath test (PBT) are voluntary! You do not need to do them, and refusing to do so will not result in a loss of your license or any other punishment. However, there is a difference between the roadside breath test and the Intoxilyzer (or “breathalyzer”) test the police will administer back at the station or in a police van. If you refuse to consent to this “breathalyzer” test, your driver’s license will be suspended.
- Be respectful of the officer. Accept what he or she says, and do not try to fight back. You can always dispute an arrest later in court with a lawyer, but arguing (or, you know, attempting to use your status as a public official to avoid arrest) will not help you!
Nerves and anxieties run high during traffic stops. Know your rights when you’re pulled over and stay calm!