Testing and Refusal
If your driving behavior causes a law enforcement officer to suspect alcohol or drug impairment, you will be pulled over. You may then be asked to participate in several tests looking for impairment. When you drive a vehicle in Colorado, you give implied consent to chemical testing as part of an impaired driving investigation. Participation in roadside impairment testing is voluntary, however, Colorado law creates consequences for refusing chemical tests by officers.
If you refuse chemical testing you will be classified as a Persistent Drunk Driver (PDD) and be required to use an ignition interlock device for a minimum two (2) year period. The ignition interlock device is required regardless of whether you are convicted of an impaired driving offense in criminal court.
The following behaviors can be viewed as refusal:
- Telling an officer, “no” when asked to submit to a test or attempting to delay the testing
- Failing to choose when offered a choice of breath or blood testing
- Failing to cooperate with an alternate test if the test you selected is unavailable
- Failing to follow the officer’s instructions throughout the testing process or not providing the number of samples requested
- Requesting to speak to an attorney prior to agreeing to a test – there is no legal right to consult with an attorney prior to taking a test requested by the officer
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in your body. By Colorado law, you are driving under the influence of alcohol if your BAC is .08 or greater. Drivers with a BAC of .15 or greater are considered Persistent Drunk Drivers (PDD) and may be subject to additional penalties. If an officer believes you are unable to safely drive a vehicle and your BAC is between .05 and .079, you may be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).
It’s important to note that while BAC is a significant factor in impaired driving investigations, the decision to pull you over or place you under arrest is determined by behaviors observed by law enforcement officers. While BAC can only measure the amount of alcohol in your system, many Colorado law enforcement officers have received specialized training to detect impairment from other drugs.
You can be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) if a law enforcement officer suspects alcohol or drugs have significantly impaired your ability to drive safely. A driver with a blood alcohol content of .05 – .079 is considered DWAI. DWAI is a misdemeanor in Colorado. Drivers charged with a DWAI will have to go through the Court path. A conviction results in eight (8) points on your license.
Drivers under the age of 21 with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) between .02-.05 may be charged with Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD). If you are under 21 and your BAC was .05 and higher, you will receive the same charges (DWAI or DUI) as an adult.
|1st Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD) Offense (Class A)
|Up to 24 hours
|UDD with one or more prior UDD (Class 2 Traffic Misdemeanor)
|Up to 24 hours
Drugs and Other Substances
If you refused the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test, regardless of the drugs in your system, you will be required to complete the full term of revocations and restrictions before your license can be reinstated.
Requesting a DMV Hearing
You have the opportunity to request a hearing with a Department of Revenue hearing officer – the DMV is part of the Colorado Department of Revenue – and the arresting officer before driving restrictions go into effect. Hearings must be requested in writing at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within seven days of the arrest.
Victim Impact Panels
Drivers convicted of a DUI are required to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel. At these panels, victims and survivors of impaired driving crashes speak briefly about the crash in which they or a loved one was injured or killed. The purpose of the panels is to help impaired driving offenders recognize and internalize the lasting and long-term effects of impaired driving. Visit MaddVIP.org to find more information and a panel near you.
Cost of a DUI
The full cost of a DUI goes beyond the fines assessed through the court process. A recent calculation finds the average first-time DUI in Colorado costs $13,530. Click here to learn more about the other financial costs of a DUI. It’s also important to consider that beyond money, a DUI costs drivers a lot of their free time. No DUI Colorado compiled this fact sheet to illustrate how much time drivers can expect to spend dealing with a DUI.