Understanding Consent in the Colorado DUI Breathalyzer Context

police pull overIf you are stopped under suspicion of drinking and driving by a police officer in the state of Colorado, you will be asked by the officer to submit to a breathalyzer test. You may think it is perfectly within your right to refuse to take the test, but that belief is not consistent with the state’s implied consent laws. In fact, under the law, you can be penalized for refusing to consent to a breathalyzer test. The purpose of this post is to explain Colorado’s expressed consent law and the penalties for noncompliance. If you have been charged with DUI or DWAI in the state of Colorado, contact a skilled and experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney. An experienced attorney will explain your legal rights, the consequences of a conviction, and work hard to mount the strongest possible defense on your behalf.

Colorado Law Identifies the Moment of Consent as the Moment You Get Behind the Wheel

Under Colorado law, you are deemed to have consented to a test of your breath or blood the very moment you choose to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle on the state’s roads or highways. In other words, your consent is implied by your decision to drive within the state’s borders. Thus, with your implied consent, an officer making a valid stop can ask you to submit to the breathalyzer test. It is important to understand here that this is the case even if you have not been arrested. The reason for this is the twofold requirements of probable cause in the making of a valid DUI or DWAI arrest.  

Probable cause essentially means a reasonable suspicion. First, the officer must possess probable cause in making the initial stop. In the drinking and driving context, this reasonable suspicion includes things like swerving, erratic speed or direction, the visible presence of alcohol in the vehicle, and more. After making the valid stop, the officer must possess probable cause to make a valid DUI or DWAI arrest. This is there implied consent for breathalyzer testing comes in. A breathalyzer test measures the ratio of blood to alcohol in your body. For DUI, the legal limit is .08%. For DWAI, the legal limit is .05%. A measurement of either percentage, if produced by a breathalyzer test at a valid stop, constitutes the probable cause need to make a valid DUI or DWAI arrest in the state of Colorado. Without the test, the theory goes, the probable cause requirement cannot be satisfied. Of course, in the days before breathalyzer test, the probable cause requirement was more subjective and involved less scientific tests like reciting the alphabet in reverse, touching your pointer fingers to the tip of your nose, and walking a straight line.

What to Do if You Have Been Arrested for DUI or DWAI in Colorado

The penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer test in Colorado are harsh, as the penalties for conviction of DUI or DWAI. If you have been charged with either offense, contact a skilled and experienced Denver DUI defense attorney today.

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