When am I required to submit to an alcohol breath test or alcohol blood test in Colorado?
If you are arrested for suspected DUI in Colorado, you must submit to an alcohol blood test or alcohol breath test. Colorado vehicle code requires you to consent to either an alcohol blood test or alcohol breath test, if officers have probable cause to believe you may be driving under the influence of alcohol.
Colorado Revised Statute 42-1301.1 states that any person who drives a motor vehicle shall be required to take and complete an alcohol blood test or alcohol breath test for the purposes of determine the alcoholic content of the person’s blood or breath when so requested by law enforcement having probable cause to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol.
The officers must first establish probable cause to believe you may be driving under the influence of alcohol. Typically, officers build probable cause by initial observations of a driving pattern, contact with you, and administering a serious of field sobriety tests. The field sobriety tests are voluntary and you do not have to perform them. The only test that you must submit to is after you are arrested. If you do not know if an officer is requesting an alcohol blood test pursuant to an arrest, ask. You can ask the officer if you are under arrest and if this is an evidentiary-based test.
During the stop and resulting arrest is not the time to debate whether the officers have sufficient probable cause to arrest you and request the mandatory alcohol breath test or alcohol blood test. This would be argued in a court, after the fact, not during the incident. Whether the officers had probable cause to arrest you is a very fact specific question that should be reviewed with a Colorado DUI attorney.
What happens if I refuse an alcohol blood test or alcohol breath test?
Once you have elected either blood or breath, that choice cannot be changed. If you elect an alcohol breath test and then do not successfully provided a sample, you could be charged with a refusal. Likewise, if you refuse to provide a blood or breath sample, you could be charged with a refusal to submit to the mandatory alcohol breath test or alcohol blood test. A refusal carries a mandatory year license suspension.
You are not required to take or consent to any other tests in a DUI investigation. If officers request that you take a preliminary breath test, usually conducted at the stop but prior to an arrest, you are within your rights to refuse that preliminary test. This preliminary breath test cannot be considered a refusal for the purposes of suspending your license. Again, if you are uncertain, ask if you are under arrest or if the officer is referring the mandatory alcohol breath test or alcohol blood test.
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