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Your Rights and Responsibilities With DUI Tests

Nov. 28, 2021

Man hand drinking beer and holding car keysIn Colorado, a law enforcement officer may pull you over on suspicion of impaired driving and request a field sobriety test or blood alcohol test. However, many drivers are unaware of their rights and responsibilities regarding DUI tests when stopped by a police officer. An experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney can educate you about your rights and responsibilities with DUI tests and what to do when pulled over or arrested.

At Watkins Law Firm LLC, I'm committed to offering comprehensive legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in their DUI and DWAI cases. I'm available to discuss your unique situation and educate you about your rights and responsibilities regarding DUI tests – field sobriety, breath, and blood tests – in Colorado. Even if you are facing DUI charges, I can fight vigorously to defend your rights, protect your driving privileges, and dispute the allegations against you with factual evidence.

My firm – Watkins Law Firm LLC – proudly represents clients across Boulder, Colorado, and the surrounding areas of Longmont, Broomfield, Lafayette, and Louisville.

Understanding Expressed Consent in Colorado

According to Colorado's expressed consent law, any person who drives a motor vehicle on the highways and streets across the state is deemed to have given consent to a breath, blood, saliva, and/or urine test. Hence, if a law enforcement officer establishes probable cause for a DUI, you must take a Breathalyzer or blood test. Failure to take a chemical test may result in different consequences.

Blood Alcohol Test vs. Sobriety Test

A blood alcohol test is often done to measure the level of alcohol in your blood or body. The blood test will help determine an accurate estimate of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you have a BAC level of 0.08% or more, you may be facing DUI charges. Blood alcohol tests are mandatory, and completing the tests are required under Colorado law.

Conversely, field sobriety tests – the horizontal gaze, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand tests – are used by police officers to determine whether a driver is impaired. Field sobriety tests are not as accurate as blood alcohol tests. Also, field sobriety tests are voluntary under Colorado law, and taking the tests is not required. There is no punishment for refusal.

Types of Sobriety Tests

There are three standardized field sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: the horizontal gaze, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand tests.

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test helps determine the ability of the alleged impaired driver's eyes to follow a moving object either in a smooth or irregular way.

The Walk-and-Turn Test

During the walk-and-turn test, the alleged drunk driver will be asked to take nine steps along a straight line in a heel-to-toe manner. Upon taking the nine steps, the driver will turn on one foot and return back to their starting position in the same heel-to-toe manner.

The One-Leg Stand Test

During the one-leg stand test, the alleged impaired driver will be asked to stand on one foot at the height of about six inches above the ground and count aloud for about 30 seconds.

In the state of Colorado, field sobriety tests are voluntary. You are within your rights to refuse them without facing any consequences. Conversely, you have no right to refuse a Breathalyzer or blood test, and there may be consequences for refusal.

Consequences of Refusal

Under Colorado DUI laws, any driver who refuses chemical testing violates the expressed consent law and will be subject to certain penalties. Below are some of the consequences of a DUI chemical test refusal in Colorado:

  • One year automatic driver's license suspension

  • A mandatory alcohol and drug education and treatment program

  • Designation as a Colorado "persistent drunk driver" (PDD)

  • An ignition interlock device on your vehicle for at least one year once your driving privileges have been restored

  • Mandatory SR-22 insurance requirement

An experienced attorney can evaluate your unique situation and strategize a strong defense to help fight your DUI charges and make sure you do not suffer any of these consequences.

How a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Fighting your DUI charges in Colorado can involve a lot of complexities. Understanding your rights and responsibilities regarding DUI tests and the consequences of refusal to take a chemical test is crucial to help you make intelligent decisions. Therefore, when facing drunk driving allegations, you need to act quickly and retain a highly-skilled criminal defense attorney to help protect your rights and outline an effective defense.

With more than 20 years of extensive experience in Colorado DUI law, I have the knowledge and resources to help clients fight and defend their rights when facing drunk driving charges. As your legal counsel, I can:

  • Evaluate the circumstances surrounding your arrest

  • Determine whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over or arrest you

  • Review and investigate the various tests performed by the law enforcement officer

  • Identify possible problems during the chemical testing

Using my in-depth legal understanding, I will help you navigate the Colorado criminal justice system and make sure you get fair treatment. I will fight vigorously to defend your rights and help improve your chances of a brighter tomorrow.

Call my firm – Watkins Law Firm LLC – today to schedule a simple case evaluation with an experienced DUI defense attorney. I can offer you the detailed legal counsel and reliable representation you need to fight your drunk driving charges. My firm is proud to represent clients across Boulder, Longmont, Broomfield, Lafayette, and Louisville, Colorado.