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Breathalyzer tests: What happens if I refuse?

Last week, we told you about the differences between a roadside preliminary breath test (PBT) and an official Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer test, which typically takes place at the police station following an arrest for drunk driving.

Even though we mentioned in this previous blog post that you can face a penalty for refusing a Breathalyzer test (while there is no penalty for refusing a PBT), we didn’t list the specific penalties for such a refusal. If you would like to learn what these penalties may be, please read on.

So what are the penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer?

Unlike a roadside PBT, you can be punished for refusing to submit to chemical testing after being arrested for drinking and driving.

While this chemical testing can take the form of a Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer test or a blood test, many opt for the former. However, regardless of which one is involved, you can face a penalty for refusing under the authority of Colorado’s expressed consent law, which states that a driver is “deemed to have expressed [his or her] consent” to chemical testing by merely driving within the borders of Colorado.

Therefore, if you have been arrested for drunk driving — meaning the police already have probable cause to believe you were driving while impaired or intoxicated — the law says you are required to take a blood or Breathalyzer test. If you refuse, the DMV may revoke your license as follows:

  • First refusal: One-year license revocation
  • Second refusal: Two-year license revocation
  • Third refusal: Three-year license revocation

Once you receive notice of your license revocation from the DMV, you only have seven days to request a hearing — so you need to act fast and get legal representation as soon as possible.

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