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Can I refuse a sobriety test?

When you're pulled over for the first time for drunk driving, it can be intimidating. It's a new experience and you may be unsure what to do to save yourself from harsh fines and sentencing. For this reason, you may in the moment consider refusing to take any kind of sobriety test, whether it involves a breath test, blood test or anything in between.

However, under Colorado law, drivers may not have the right to refuse such a test. This is because you have already given "expressed" consent under Colorado law. 

Express consent law

Providing a chemical sample for testing is required under the "express consent" law. This law states that anyone driving a motor vehicle through the state has already express consent to provide a chemical sample when asked. In fact, if you are considering refusing the test to avoid a conviction and penalties, you may cause more problems for yourself.

Refusing to take a test alone could lead to a 12-month suspension of your license, and the earliest it could be reinstated early is after two months without driving. This penalty is stricter than the license suspension penalties if you are found to be driving under the influence for the first time. You may also be required to install an interlock ignition device for two years after your license is reinstated.

What about a field sobriety test?

Field sobriety tests are different than blood and breath tests, so they are not subject to the same requirement under the law. While Colorado has standardized their field sobriety testing, these tests can often be subjective and lead to inaccurate results.

However, if you refuse a field sobriety test, the officer will likely move to a chemical test, which have more concrete results and you must take. In this case, working with an attorney who can help defend you against the charges could be more useful.

If you are pulled over for the first time, breathe and relax, and know what tests you can and can't refuse to take so you don't create a bigger issue.

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