Express Consent Laws in Colorado

Driving is a privilege, not a right – a privilege that carries certain rules and responsibilities, including a duty not to drive while impaired. Everyone who operates a vehicle in Colorado is legally bound by this duty, and as part and parcel of that, every driver is required to submit to a test of their blood or breath by a law enforcement officer if he or she suspects your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by drugs or alcohol. This particular requirement is known as the Express Consent law, and failure to comply can result in severe repercussions if you are accused of drunk driving.

If you have been accused of DUI or DWAI, Patterson Weaver Law, LLC is here to help. Our Colorado drunk driving defense attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience and have successfully handled thousands of cases in that time. We have an in-depth knowledge of Colorado’s express consent law and will do whatever we can to help you keep your driving privileges and avoid the worst possible outcomes in your case.

Don’t leave your freedom, your rights, or your reputation to chance. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review.

What Is Colorado’s Express Consent Law?

In Colorado, as in all other states, the Express Consent law provides that as a condition to your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the state, you have “consented” to a test of your blood or breath when police suspected you of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While many states refer to these rules more accurately as “implied consent” laws, they are known as “express consent” laws in Colorado.

The text of Colorado’s express consent law can be found in Section 42-4-1301.1 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS). Specifically, this law requires anyone operating a motor vehicle on the “streets and highways” of Colorado to submit to a breath, saliva, urine, or blood test as ordered by police if police have probable cause to believe the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Failure to comply with a request carries several penalties, including the suspension of driving privileges. Refusal to submit to testing can also be used against a defendant at trial.

What If You Don’t Have a Colorado Driver’s License?

The text of Colorado’s express consent law says that it applies to anyone who drives a motor vehicle within state boundaries, regardless of whether they hold a Colorado driver’s license or not. In other words, you are still subject to Colorado’s express consent law even if you do not have a Colorado driver’s license.

Types of DUI Tests

If police suspect you are driving while impaired, as stated above, you may be required to do a breath, saliva, urine, or blood test. Oftentimes, you may choose which test to take, but keep in mind that depending on your location, not all of those tests may be available to you.

  • Breath Tests – There are generally two different methods for testing breath: portable breath tests (“PBT”) that law enforcement officers carry with them which can be performed on scene and a breathalyzer test that is typically located at the police station. PBTs given on scene are inadmissible in court as evidence as they are not specifically designed to measure the exact level of alcohol to the level that a breathalyzer machine is; PBTs are designed to give the officer an indication as to whether or not alcohol is present in your system can generally only be used to support probable. Breathalyzer tests are made on a machine that is specifically calibrated and maintained under controlled conditions; results from this test are admissible as evidence against you. Breath tests cannot test for the presence of drugs or other substances.
  • Chemical Tests – A chemical test is one that is performed on a sample of saliva, urine, or blood to determine the presence and level of drugs or other substances. Blood and urine tests are usually done at a medical facility, while chemical breath tests can be done at police stations with the proper equipment or sent to a state lab for testing. Colorado law grants individuals the right to choose between taking a blood or breath test, with certain exceptions based on practicality and expediency, which the arresting officer must explain.

What If You Refuse to Take a Chemical Test When Directed to Do So by a Police Officer?

Refusing to take a chemical test when asked by police is a violation of Colorado’s express consent law, and you could face criminal penalties for your actions.

According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, these include:

  • Penalties if you are over age 21 – A one-year automatic suspension of your driver’s license for a first offense, followed by a two-year or three-year suspension for a second or third offense, respectively.
  • Penalties if you are under age 21 – If you are under age 21 and a police officer suspects you are driving while impaired, you must comply with pre-arrest breath tests as well as post-arrest chemical tests. Failing to do so can lead to an automatic license suspension, and you may face additional penalties for consuming alcohol while underage.

Refusal to take a test when requested can and will be used against you by the District Attorney in court.

Requesting a Hearing

If you refused to take a test or took the test and the result showed the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system, you can request a hearing with the DMV to challenge the test result or explain your refusal.

This is a potential opportunity for you to keep your driving privileges, so be sure to get help from a DUI attorney.

Contact an Experienced DUI Lawyer Today

The actions you take in the moments after an arrest on suspicion of DUI can have a significant effect on your rights, freedoms, and reputation. Contact Patterson Weaver Law, LLC immediately to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer in Colorado about your case.