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What does it mean to ‘refuse’ a Breathalyzer test?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2018 | Firm News |

When it comes to refusing Breathalyzer tests, Colorado has some strict laws. In fact, you may face a license suspension of one year or longer if you refuse to submit to testing after being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

However, while most people know that they may be punished for refusing a test, few know what actions actually constitute a refusal. For instance, do you have to actually say “no,” or is simply being uncooperative enough? Read on to find out more.

Was it a ‘refusal’ or not?

Under Colorado’s expressed consent law, drivers are required to take a breath test or blood test if the police have probable cause to believe they have violated the state’s drunk driving laws.

While many drivers are given the option of either a breath test or blood test, once they make their choice, they cannot change their minds. In fact, the law clearly states that if a driver “fails to take and complete, and to cooperate in the completing of, the test elected, the failure shall be deemed to be a refusal.”

Therefore, even if drivers do not explicitly say “no” when asked to submit to a breath or blood test, their actions alone may still be considered a refusal, particularly if the police think the drivers aren’t cooperating enough.

As one Colorado court wrote, “An objective standard applies to determine whether a driver’s statements or behavior constituted an outright refusal or a refusal by noncooperation.” When making this decision, several things can be considered, including the driver’s actual words as well as “manifestations of willingness or unwillingness to take the test.”

As you can see, there isn’t always a bright line rule as to when a driver is considered to have refused a breath or blood test. Every situation is unique, meaning even one small difference in the facts may be enough to change whether certain actions constitute a refusal or not.

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