Being pulled over for DUI can be a stressful experience and you may not be sure what to do, including whether or not you should take a breathalyzer test. In essence, whether you can refuse to take this test in Colorado really depends on your situation. Keep in mind that whatever you decide to do, it’s important to contact a DUI lawyer, like a DUI lawyer in Denver, CO, for assistance as soon as you can when you are dealing with law enforcement.
When Refusal Is an Option
If you are at least 21 in Colorado —and in many other states in the US— you might have the right to refuse the breathalyzer under specific circumstances. All of those circumstances depend on whether you have been officially arrested for driving under the influence at the time the test is requested.
You can refuse a breathalyzer and any other field sobriety test a law enforcement officer may perform without any consequences if you have not been formally arrested for DUI. This also means that if any test is performed that you have not consented to while you are not under arrest, it can’t be used against you later in a court.
When Refusal Is Not an Option
On the flip side, if you have been officially arrested for DUI, you no longer have the right to refuse any sobriety testing, including the breathalyzer. This is because in Colorado, like most states, there is an “express consent” law that holds driving as a privilege, not a right, and this is a privilege that can be revoked as soon as you are legally arrested for driving under the influence.
Under Colorado state laws, using the driving privilege means that you also automatically consent to testing if you are arrested for DUI. Once you are arrested for DUI, you should also consent to tests in most cases and know that their results can be used against you in court.
Any person under the age of 21 in Colorado who is suspected of driving under the influence must consent to the breathalyzer, even if they haven’t been arrested. In this case, a law enforcement officer can use the breathalyzer simply because they suspect a person under 21 has consumed alcohol.
Keep in mind that if you refuse a breathalyzer or other sobriety test after a DUI arrest, you will likely face serious consequences. You may automatically have your license suspended and be required to attend classes about drinking and driving. Your refusal alone in this situation can be used against you in court as evidence of guilt as well.
While the answer to whether you can refuse a breathalyzer test depends on your circumstances at the time the test is requested, knowing when and when not to refuse will give you an advantage. If you have been charged with a DUI in Colorado, you are facing serious consequences that will impact your personal, financial, and even possibly your work life. Speak to an experienced DUI lawyer for help as soon as you can.
Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into the laws surrounding refusing breathalyzer testing.