In the immortal words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To blow, or not to blow – that is the question.”
Okay, we might be remembering that wrong (it’s been a while since high school English class), but it’s an excellent question nonetheless. When pulled over for a suspected DUI and asked to blow into a breathalyzer, should you?
What Happens When I Refuse a Breath Test?
In a typical DUI pullover scenario, the first test you will likely be asked to take is the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. This is the thing you see on TV – stand on one leg, follow the light with your eyes, that kind of thing. You are totally within your rights to refuse this test, and honestly, some totally sober people have a hard time completing it to the satisfaction of police. Police may sound like they are ordering you to do the field sobriety test, but they cannot – it’s voluntary. However, know that your refusal will be brought up in court.
The next test they will likely ask you to take is what is known as a preliminary breath test, or PBT – basically, a handheld breathalyzer that the officer will hand to you and ask you to blow. Now, refusing a breathalyzer test in Colorado triggers an automatic 12-month suspension of your driver’s license – but a refusal to do a PBT does not. You are within your rights to refuse a roadside PBT, and you will not face consequences to your driver’s license for refusing a PBT. In fact, PBT results are not even admissible in court, although - again - the DA will bring up the refusal in court, and that will probably not look good for you. The breath test that matters is the tabletop test back at the station. If you refuse the tabletop test, that is when you start facing ramifications – the aforementioned license suspension as well as the implication to the jury and the judge that you have something to hide by refusing.