Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
It does not matter how much time has elapsed between refusals. A successive violation will always carry a stiffer penalty than the prior one.1
Can I get a restricted license if I refuse a chemical test?
If your license is revoked due to a DUI test refusal in Colorado, you should be eligible for a restricted license two months into your revocation period. However, you would need to keep an ignition interlock breathalyzer device in your vehicles for the following two years.
If you were under 21 years old at the time of the refusal, you cannot apply for an interlock restricted license for a full year.2
To apply for a restricted license, you will need to:
obtain SR22 insurance, called “proof of financial responsibility (you will then need to maintain it for one year if it is your first refusal and the DUI case is dropped; otherwise, you will need to maintain SR22 insurance for three years);
take a Level II alcohol and drug education and treatment program; and
get an ignition interlock device installed in all of your vehicles from an approved vendor.
Getting an ignition interlock deviceinstalled in one vehicle costs up to $200, and monthly maintenance can run as high as $90.3
Are there other consequences for refusing to take the chemical DUI test?
Yes. If you refuse to take a chemical test following a Colorado DUI arrest, the police will apply for a warrant and force you to submit to a blood draw. If you resist, this could involve tying you down while the phlebotomist takes the sample.
Secondly, the Colorado Department of Revenue will designate you as a persistent drunk driver (PDD) – even if you have no prior drunk driving convictions.
Finally, if your DUI case goes to trial, the prosecutors can use the fact that you refused the chemical test as evidence of your guilt. In other words, they can argue that you only refused the test because you were concerned the results would show you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.4
Can I fight the license revocation?
Yes. Any time the Colorado DMV revokes your license for an alleged chemical test refusal, you can request a DMV hearing to contest the revocation.
A DMV hearing is an administrative trial where you or your attorney can present evidence and witnesses to show that the officer was wrong and that you never refused to take the breath or blood test. Note, however, that DMV hearings are difficult to win because the state has a very low burden of proof (unlike with criminal trials).5
Refusing a PBT does not trigger a license revocation in Colorado unless you are under 21.
Will I lose my license for refusing to take the preliminary breath test?
the officer reasonably believes you consumed alcohol.
Unlike with chemical breath and blood tests, Colorado has no “express consent” law requiring DUI suspects to take a preliminary breath test (unless you are underage). Preliminary breath tests are merely investigative tools the police use to determine whether to arrest you for DUI.6
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.