Colorado law deems all motorists as having given implied consent to submit to a blood or breath test in the event of a DUI arrest. If you get arrested for DUI or DWAI and refuse to take a chemical blood or breath test, it can lead to severe consequences. In other words, a driver is required to comply with an officer’s request to take a chemical test when there’s probable cause to believe the person was driving a motor vehicle in violation of Colorado’s DUI laws (See C.R.S. § 42-4-1301). Here is everything you need to know about refusing to take a Breathalyzer test in Colorado.
Colorado’s Express Consent Law
All Colorado drivers are automatically required to comply with specific rules and regulations as a condition of having a license. One of these rules requires Colorado drivers to comply with chemical tests to determine if they are suspected of driving while drunk. This is known as the “express consent” law because you’ve automatically given your consent to be tested under certain circumstances by having a Colorado driver’s license.
There’s one more important thing to note regarding DUI tests and convictions in Colorado. Suppose you undergo a chemical DUI test, and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is above 0.08 percent. In that case, you’re automatically guilty of DUI per se because you were driving while above the legal limit. However, you can still be found guilty of DUI even if you were below the limit based on other factors.
Roadside Sobriety Evaluations
The express consent laws do not apply to roadside sobriety tests undertaken by a police officer. Such tests are not chemical tests and are administered by law enforcement officers to understand if a person may be over the legal limit and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Roadside sobriety tests have three main standardized tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (the follow my finger/pen test), Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand. Field sobriety tests may include physical and mental evaluations, such as the finger-to-nose test and reciting the alphabet or a numerical sequence. Even if you haven’t been drinking or using drugs, “failing” a roadside sobriety test can provide a police officer with probable cause for arrest.
The Colorado Supreme Court has determined that roadside sobriety tests are a “search” that must be supported by probable cause for either DUI or DWAI, and the tests must be performed “voluntarily.” No Miranda warning is required for roadside sobriety tests, as they do not implicate the privilege against self-incrimination.
Under What Circumstances Will a Chemical Test Be Requested?
An officer who has probable cause to believe a person was driving under the influence will generally ask the person to take a breath or blood test to determine the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). However, once a driver chooses either a breath or blood test, they typically can’t change the choice.
If an officer has probable cause to believe a person was driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, the officer will request a test of blood, saliva, and/or urine. Barring extraordinary circumstances, an officer should make sure the driver is tested within two hours of driving.
What Happens If I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer or Blood Test in Colorado?
If you are pulled over in Colorado and refuse to provide a breath or blood sample, you open the door for various unpleasant consequences. Some of these penalties may be invoked within seconds of your refusal to take the test. Here are a few of the consequences of refusing to take a breathalyzer test:
- Your license will be suspended for a year, which will occur automatically when you refuse the chemical test.
- You will be labeled a “persistent drunk driver” (PDD). Not only is this label embarrassing, but it can also impact your ability to secure employment.
- You must complete an alcohol and drug treatment program. Successful program completion is required before you can legally drive again.
- You must install an ignition interlock device in your car. This device measures your BAC and allows you to start your car only after complying.
- You will face increased insurance costs. Additionally, you will be required to obtain SR-22 insurance even if you are not guilty of DUI.
In addition to negatively impacting your driving record and disrupting your daily driving routine, your refusal to take a breathalyzer will be treated as evidence of your guilt. Once this happens, it can be extremely difficult to escape this stigma.
Of course, if you do submit to a breathalyzer test and the results show that your BAC was over the applicable legal limit, the breathalyzer test results can be used against you. Simply put, refusing to take a breathalyzer test or other chemical testing after your arrest is your choice. However, you will suffer the penalties mentioned above for that refusal because you have no legal right to do so.
When is a breathalyzer administered?
A breathalyzer is administered after a law enforcement official pulls you over and suspects that you have been drinking. Usually, the officer will administer roadside sobriety tests first (SFSTs), and then, if he believes you are under the influence of alcohol, he will ask if you want to take a breath test. The test has to be administered in a secure location such as a police department.
According to Colorado DUI law, an officer must administer a breathalizer within two hours of the person driving a vehicle. If more than two hours pass before the breathalyzer is administered, then the results usually cannot be used against you in your case.
Contact South Denver Law to See How a DUI Lawyer Can Help You
At South Denver Law, our defense lawyers have extensive experience handling chemical and breath test refusal cases. If you or your loved one was arrested for a DUI while refusing to take a breathalyzer test, we can help.
For more assistance on handling refusals, South Denver Law in Parker, Co is the attorney you can trust. Please contact us or call us for more information regarding DUIs, DWAIs, UDDs, or substance abuse.
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