Why am I being punished for refusing a Breathalyzer?

Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which you are driving home after having a couple drinks with dinner and are stopped by police. Even if you are not impaired, it is quite likely that the officer will arrest you and ask you to submit to chemical testing - such as a breathalyzer or blood test - in order to determine your blood-alcohol-content (BAC) level.

At first glance, you may be tempted to refuse BAC testing. After all, why should you be required to give the police evidence they will surely use against you, let alone face punishment if you refuse? Well, the answer to this question can be found in Colorado's Expressed Consent law.

Understanding Expressed Consent in Colorado

Simply put, Colorado's Expressed Consent law dictates that a driver is deemed under state law to have already expressed consent to BAC testing if he or she is driving anywhere in Colorado. Therefore, if police have probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while your ability is impaired (DWAI), they can request that you submit to testing. If you refuse, you can face penalties from the DMV, including:

  • One-year license revocation for the first refusal
  • Up to five-year license revocation for the second refusal
  • Up to five-year license revocation for the third, or subsequent, refusal

It is also important to note, even if you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test, you can still be charged with DUI and face criminal penalties if convicted, including possible jail time, fines, installation of an ignition interlock device and mandatory alcohol education classes, just to name few.

Regardless of whether the DMV has revoked your license for a refusal or a failed alcohol test, you can request a hearing to challenge your revocation. However, you only have seven days to request such a hearing - meaning you need to act fast and contact a lawyer right away.

Legal guidance is a must

If you are ever arrested for suspected drunk driving, you will face many tough choices: should I take a breath test, a blood test or refuse testing altogether? No matter your choice, you will likely need the experienced guidance of a skilled DUI defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer and explain your options and guide you through the complex legal process, including both DMV hearings and possible criminal proceedings. Your rights and freedom may be at stake, so contact an attorney today.