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Refusing a breathalyzer test in Colorado triggers an immediate suspension of your driver’s license, but it’s not illegal to refuse. In Colorado, driving is considered a privilege rather than a right. This distinction means that when you operate a vehicle, you implicitly agree to certain conditions set by the state, including complying with its laws on alcohol consumption and driving.

While the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend your driver’s license for one year on the first refusal, you won’t face criminal charges for refusing. This, however, does not withstand any criminal charges for DUI or reckless driving that might otherwise come up.

Implied Consent Law in Colorado

Colorado's implied consent law plays a central role in the administration of breathalyzer tests. Under this law, any individual who drives a vehicle in Colorado automatically consents to submit to chemical tests of their blood, breath, or urine if law enforcement officers suspect them of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI). This consent is implied by the act of driving itself. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test is possible, but it comes with significant consequences.

As previously noted, a first refusal results in an immediate license suspension for one year. This suspension period increases with subsequent refusals: two years for a second refusal and three years for a third refusal. The license suspension is separate from any criminal charges and penalties that may (or may not) arise if you are later convicted of DUI or DWAI.

Refusing a Breathalyzer Can Be Used Against You in Court

In addition to administrative penalties, refusing a breathalyzer test can also impact the criminal case against you. Prosecutors can argue that your refusal indicates a consciousness of guilt. In other words, they may assert that you refused the test because you knew you were over the legal BAC limit.

This argument can be used in court to strengthen the case against you, potentially leading to harsher penalties if you are convicted of DUI or DWAI.

Defending Against Refusal-Related Charges

If you refuse a breathalyzer test and face administrative or criminal penalties, various defenses might be available depending on your circumstances. One possible defense is challenging the legality of the traffic stop.

If the officer lacked probable cause to make the stop, any evidence gathered, including the refusal to take a breathalyzer test, may be deemed inadmissible in court. Another defense strategy might involve questioning the accuracy and reliability of the testing equipment or procedures.

Should I Ever Refuse a Breathalyzer?

Ultimately, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test is a decision you will have to make on your own. In Colorado, drivers do not have the right to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to take a breathalyzer test. This lack of consultation can be problematic for individuals who are unaware of their rights and the potential consequences of refusal.

Despite this, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible after a DUI or DWAI arrest is crucial. An experienced attorney can help navigate the complexities of Colorado's DUI laws and mount a robust defense on your behalf.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

If you are facing a DUI or DWAI charge in Colorado, our experienced attorneys at Clawson & Clawson, LLP are here to help you navigate the complexities of Colorado's DUI laws, protect your rights, and help you defend against your charges.

Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step towards safeguarding your future.

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