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Refusing to take a roadside breathalyzer test in Colorado

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A DUI or DWAI conviction in Colorado can wreak havoc on all aspects of your life. In addition to facing criminal penalties like the loss of your driving privileges, community service hours, fines, and jail time, a DUI or DWAI conviction can have other consequences as well. You may lose your job or have a harder time finding work, and you may face ostracism from your family and friends.

These potential consequences are why many people in Colorado refuse to take a roadside sobriety test if they’re pulled over and accused of drunk driving. Unfortunately, refusing a roadside test can create its own problems for those suspected of DUI. If this has happened to you, call the criminal defense team at Schwaner Law right away. 

I, Christian Schwaner, am a former special prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney who’s used my inside knowledge of the justice system to defend Coloradans accused of DUI and other crimes. I’ve spent more than 20 years helping people just like you, and I’m ready to help with your DUI case. To find out more about my legal services for DUI defendants, call (719) 577-9700 or visit my contact page.

Colorado’s “Express Consent” Law

All Colorado drivers are automatically required to comply with certain rules and regulations as a condition of having a license. One of these rules is that Colorado drivers are required to comply with certain chemical tests to determine if you are suspected of driving while drunk. This is known as the “express consent” law because by having a Colorado driver’s license, you’ve automatically given your consent to be tested under certain circumstances.

There’s one more important thing to note when it comes to DUI tests and convictions in Colorado. If you undergo a chemical DUI test and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is above 0.08 percent, 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.

Different Kinds of DUI Tests in Colorado

If you’re ever pulled over by the police and they ask you to perform a sobriety test, it’s very important to be aware of the different kinds of sobriety tests and what your rights are.

In the event that you’re stopped by the police and they suspect you’ve been drinking, they may ask you to perform a preliminary field sobriety test or breath test. Field sobriety tests include tasks like asking you to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, having you walk backward in a similar manner, asking you to stand on one leg, having you recite the alphabet forward or backward, etc. Police may also ask you to blow into a breathalyzer.

Colorado law does not require drivers to submit to any field sobriety tests or preliminary breath tests. These tests are ways for police officers to gather more evidence of wrongdoing, and drivers nearly always fail. You have nothing to gain by complying with any of these preliminary tests. If you are asked to perform any field sobriety test or preliminary breath test, you should politely refuse.

Once you refuse to take a preliminary breath test or field sobriety test, you will likely be taken to a police station and asked to submit to a chemical DUI test, also known as an evidentiary test. This will either be another breath test or a blood test, and this test is the one you’re required to undergo as a condition of holding a Colorado driver’s license.

There are different advantages and disadvantages to the two kinds of chemical, evidentiary DUI tests in Colorado. You’ll get your results more quickly with a breath test, but the machines used in the tests are less reliable, giving you a chance of registering a false positive when you’re really below the limit. Blood tests are more reliable, but it will take much longer to get your results. Before you take any DUI test, you should speak to an attorney if at all possible.

Penalties for Refusing a DUI Test in Colorado

Before refusing to take an evidentiary DUI test in Colorado, you should be aware of what the potential penalties are. If you refuse you take the test, the penalties include:

  • The automatic suspension of your license for one year after a first refusal, with the suspension period increasing for additional refusals
  • Designation by the state as a “persistent drunk driver,” which could impact your ability to get a drivers license in the future
  • A mandatory alcohol and drug education and treatment program
  • Having an ignition interlock device placed on your vehicle for at least a year after your driving privileges are restored
  • Your refusal to take the test being submitted as evidence of guilt if your case goes to court

Should You Refuse to Take a DUI Test If You’re Pulled Over?

Given the strong penalties for refusing to take a chemical DUI test, it’s generally a good idea to submit to the test if you’re asked. However, the penalties for refusing to take the test may be less than the penalties for a DUI conviction, especially if you have prior convictions on your record.

If you’re facing the choice between refusing the DUI test and the potential consequences of a DUI charge, your best bet is to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. A DUI defense lawyer will be familiar with the nuances of Colorado’s drunk driving laws and can help you find the right option for your circumstances. Don’t make this decision without first talking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Contact Schwaner Law Today

As you can see, there are no easy answers when it comes to drunk driving offenses in Colorado. Each case is unique and requires special consideration. With my extensive history handling DUI cases in Colorado as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, I have the knowledge and skillset you’re looking for. To give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome in your DUI case, contact my office today by calling (719) 577-9700 or visiting my contact page.

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