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Can you legally refuse a chemical breath test in Colorado?

From the moment you begin interacting with law enforcement during a traffic stop, they will do everything in their power to gather evidence against you. Understanding how dangerous certain interactions with law enforcement can be may lead you to try to assert your rights during an encounter.

However, there are times when your decision to push back can have legal and even criminal consequences. Such dangerous decisions could include refusing to take a chemical breath test during a roadside traffic stop. Refusing to take the test could have consequences, and it is still possible for you to wind up facing a DUI without taking a chemical test.

Colorado law assumes consent from all drivers

When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle on a public road in Colorado, under law, you give implied consent to chemical testing. One of the ways that lawmakers and law enforcement deter impaired driving is by instituting rules that make it as easy as possible to administer chemical tests.

The Express Consent law gives law enforcement the power to test anyone they reasonably suspect of drunk driving. The law does give the person accused the right to choose the kind of chemical test they want to take. Additionally, the Express Consent law creates consequences for those who refuse chemical testing.

The end result of violating the Express Consent law in Colorado is the revocation of your license. The courts may suspend your driving privileges for anywhere from 12 months to 36 months, depending on the number of previous offenses you have.

You will also need to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for two years after you get your license back. That can be both expensive and embarrassing, as anyone who enters your vehicle will see that you have to perform a chemical breath test before you can start your car.

Refusing a chemical test doesn't necessarily help your court case

Despite the potential for the suspension of your license, you might still think that refusing a chemical test is your best choice to avoid a potential impaired driving charge. However, the courts don't inherently require a chemical test to convict you for impaired driving offenses.

If you refuse chemical testing, the law enforcement officer who arrested you can testify to that fact, as well as to the various reasons why they stopped you and then proceeded to arrest you. Defendants have the right to challenge invalid breath test results and other evidence in court.

Whether you performed the breath test before an arrest or refused a breath test and got arrested anyway, you may have some legal options. Talking to an experienced defense attorney is one way to determine what choices you have to make.

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