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Can you refuse to submit to a breath test in Colorado?

Seeing red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror is a sight no motorist wants to see. Especially on weekends and holidays, such as this past Labor Day weekend, police will be on the lookout for those they believe are driving under the influence, and motorists may be pulled over or even be stopped at a DUI checkpoint during these times. If a motorist is stopped by police, they may wonder what their rights are, particularly when it comes to drunk driving.

As part of the privilege of driving in Colorado, motorists provide what Colorado law calls "express consent" to submit to a breath test or blood test when pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. However, does a motorist have the right to refuse to submit to a breath test or blood test when asked to by an officer? One can refuse to do so, but it is important to understand that refusing a chemical test has consequences.

If police have probable cause to believe a motorist was driving under the influence and the motorist refuses to submit to a chemical test, the motorist will have his or her driver's license suspended for 12 months for a first offense, 24 months for a second offense and 36 months for a third offense. In addition, once the motorist's license is reinstated, he or she must have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle for two years. Finally, in order to have his or her driver's license reinstated, the motorist must attend an alcohol education program.

As this shows, while a person may not want to submit to a chemical test, he or she can refuse to do so. However, there are consequences that follow a chemical test refusal. Therefore, a person facing a situation in which they need to provide a blood test or breath test to determine their blood alcohol content level will want to weight the pros and cons of refusing to do so before making that decision.

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