When an officer pulls a driver over, there could be a number of reasons for their actions. Sometimes their observations are based on past experiences with other drivers, a pressure to fill quotas, or just a critical view of your driving habits. At the time they approach the vehicle, they do not yet have any evidence that you have committed a crime.
For Colorado drivers in Denver and surrounding areas, it is important to know what rights you have and what actions you can refuse as law enforcement is in the process of gathering the evidence necessary to make the arrest. If you are facing criminal charges, it is crucial to build a defense to fight unjust accusations or minimize the penalties that may result from a conviction.
Refusing Tests to Establish a DUI
There are a number of tests that the officer will attempt to make a suspected drunk driver take to gather evidence against them. The individual has a right to refuse any of them. These include:
- Roadside tests, also called field sobriety tests, check for signs of intoxication, such as irregular eye movements, being able to walk a straight line heel to toe, and balancing on one leg. Many medications can cause some of these symptoms, and many physical or neurological impairments can cause balancing or walking issues. Refusing to take them will have no consequences.
- Roadside handheld breath tests are often inaccurate, and refusing them may be to the suspect’s advantage.
- If given the choice of a breath or blood test, it is advisable to request the blood test, as it is more accurate. The suspect may refuse either of these tests, but with harsh penalties.
Colorado Drunk Driving Laws
Colorado has several categories with different penalties for drunk driving on a first conviction:
- Driving under the influence (DUI), blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08% carries penalties that can include jail time and fines, probation of up to two years and mandatory public service.
- Driving while ability impaired (DWAI), BAC between 0.05 and 0.08% can carry penalties of jail time and fines as well at mandatory public service.
- Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), includes limit for THC or marijuana of 5 ng/100ml can incur similar penalties for DUI or DWAI
In addition, refusing a blood or breath test after arrest will result in an automatic one-year license revocation, and the prosecution can later use the refusal against the defendant in court.