STATE BILL COLORADO
GOP candidate David Cox, who’s trying to succeed Rep. Steve King as the state representative from House District 54, responded today to a citation he received from Grand Junction police for improper gun possession. The entire statement follows.
For the Record
After attending the Colorado Mule Deer Association’s annual gala at the Double Tree Inn, I was pulled over a block from my home on White Ave by Grand Junction Police Department Personnel. According to the officer, I was stopped for failing to have a properly illuminated license plate. After he approached my window, he informed me of why I had been stopped and asked if I had any alcohol to drink that night. I told him I had three drinks with dinner. He asked me where I was coming from and where I was going. I told him that I had just left my friends house after attending the Colorado Mule Deer Association’s annual dinner. He asked me to step out of the vehicle and perform a few roadside sobriety maneuvers to which I willingly accepted. He had me look straight forward, not moving my face, and watch his finger as he moved it back and forth while simultaneously shining a light in my eyes. He indicated that I had passed the test. I asked if I was free to go and he said that I was not and that he would like me to consent to a breathalyzer test. I told him that I felt it was unreasonable to ask me to consent to a breathalyzer test when I had already passed the field sobriety test. He told me that if I refused the breathalyzer then he was going to charge me with CRS 18-12-106 Prohibited Use of a Weapon because I had admitted to having drank alcohol previous to the stop. Throughout the entire encounter, I felt that the officer had acted very professionally and politely. However, I believe it was unprofessional to attempt to coerce me to consent to the breath test despite his admission that I had passed the field sobriety test. He asked me repeatedly if I was absolutely sure I would not consent to the breath test to which I affirmed. He then retreated to his patrol car where he had a conversation on the phone with another individual concerning the situation for around 10 minutes. Upon his return he told me that he was going to require me to perform several more field sobriety tests. I performed the heal to toe exercise for 9 paces in both direction while counting each pace, then stood on one foot while pointing the toe of my opposite foot that was elevated and pointing at the same toe with my index finger while counting in one thousands to 33, and finally tilting my head all the way back while estimating 30 seconds with my eyes closed. Again, the officer indicated I had passed the tests. One final time, he asked if I was willing to consent to the breath test. I again explained that I felt it was capricious to ask for breath when I had passed the rigorous field tests. He said that due to my refusal, he had no choice but to charge me with Prohibited Use of a Weapon. I have consulted with a legal professional concerning this charge and found that the same burden of proof that applies to driving while under the influence of alcohol also applies to possession of a firearm under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, if I was not guilty of one, I was also not guilty of the other because they both have the same burden of proof. This has been an interesting experience to which I can say I have definitely learned one thing, both driving under the influence and possession of a weapon while under the influence are both ambiguously defined offenses and should be clarified such that only failure of the field sobriety test leads to arrest or summons. Otherwise, individuals are judged according to ambiguous and conflicting standards and officers are subjected to a difficult decision. Should they arrest based on a potential technicality or release based on physical performance? Doesn’t it make more sense to base alcohol statutes on physical tests of ability rather than a number on a digital screen that may or may not truly indicate intoxication? Remember, police performance is unquestionably measured to some degree by the number of citations and arrests made. In this case, the officer decided to try and have it both ways. He released me and allowed me to drive home due to my satisfactory completion of the overall field sobriety test but summonsed me on an ambiguously defined state statute that left him room to get his numbers. This is a good example of how our laws can be improved. We need more factual, specific definition of what is lawful and what is not lawful rather than subjecting our courts and law enforcement to endless deliberation and uncertainty as to what is and is not allowed under state law. The problem of ambiguity in our law is perhaps one of the main problems needing to be dealt with not just here in the State of Colorado but also in the entire US…