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If I refuse a breath test, can I still be charged with DUI?

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2018 | Firm News |

Like most states, Colorado has an expressed consent law that says you are “deemed to have expressed [your] consent” to a breath or blood test by merely driving somewhere in Colorado. Based on this law, police will typically ask you to submit to a breath or blood test if they have probable cause to think you are driving impaired.

When confronted with the choice, however, many people are tempted to simply refuse testing altogether. After all, if the police don’t have the results of a breath or blood test, you can’t be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), right? Not so fast.

The reality is that the police and prosecutors don’t need the results of a breath or blood test to charge a person with drunk driving. In fact, DUI charges can be based on a wide variety of other evidence observed by police, including a driver’s slurred speech, difficulty balancing and the smell of alcohol, just to name a few. So even if a driver refuses an official Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer test or a blood test, they may still face DUI charges.

Other repercussions for refusing

In addition to still facing possible DUI charges, there are other penalties for refusing testing under Colorado law. For example, if you refuse a breath or blood test after a DUI arrest, the DMV may revoke your license for:

  • One year for your first refusal
  • Two years for your second refusal
  • Three years for your third refusal

So is it a good idea to refuse testing? That is certainly a tough question to answer. On one hand, police will have less evidence to use against you if you refuse, but you will lose your license — not to mention you may still be charged with DUI anyway.

On the other hand, if you take the test and fail, you will have likely guaranteed a DUI conviction, and you will still lose your license in addition to the other DUI penalties.

Regardless of your choice, however, you still have the chance to challenge a DMV license revocation at a hearing — but you only have a few days to request this hearing. This is why it is so important to seek experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.