There is often a misunderstanding about exactly what Colorado drivers can and cannot do when their vehicle is stopped by law enforcement. As part of an investigation to determine if a driver is under the influence, the officer has the right to request that the driver take a chemical test to determine alcohol content or see if other intoxicating substances are in the driver’s system. In some instances, drivers may assert that they have the right to refuse to take the test. However, drivers should understand that they do not have that right and failing to submit – even if they were not under the influence at the time – can result in penalties.

The law is called “express consent”. Under this law, if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to think a DUI was taking place or the driver was committing DWAI (driving while ability impaired) from drugs, alcohol or a combination, the test can be requested. The driver is legally required to comply. Failure to do so will result in penalties including the revocation of the driver’s license. If the driver does not comply with the test, a roadside breath test or a test given later at detox will not be sufficient for compliance.

The testing requirement can only be satisfied by the Intoxilyzer test that the officer will give to a driver or a blood test. If it is a first offense and the violation occurred from Jan 1, 2014 onward, the refusal will result in the driver’s license being revoked for one year. The driver will also be designated as a persistent drunk driver. With that, the driver is required to take part in education and treatment. There will be a restricted driver’s license with an ignition interlock device placed on the vehicle. This will last for at least two years once the person can legally drive again.

While refusal will result in penalties, in some cases, the driver might have been wise to refuse as he or she knew they would fail the test. Even if there is a refusal, there are avenues of defense that can be effective. It could be possible to have the driving privileges reinstated earlier than they otherwise would have been – even if an ignition interlock is required. Losing one’s driver’s license can be problematic personally and professionally. It might also be a financial strain. Avoiding the worst penalties is key and a legal firm experienced in representing people dealing with any type of DUI allegation including refusal may be helpful.