Understanding the Basics of Colorado DUI Breath Tests
Those suspected of driving under the influence in Colorado are typically asked to submit to either a blood test or DUI breath tests. In most cases, drivers get to choose whether they prefer a blood test or breath test, and the test typically must be administered within two hours of driving. There are some variations on the tests available within the Colorado DUI laws.
For people over the age of 21 who are suspected of a DUI, they may choose to have their blood tested if they wish. If the suspect does not want to do a blood test, then DUI breath tests will be administered. In the case of minors under the age of 21, if they are suspected of UDD, they will be given a breath test.
Per Colorado DUI laws, once a suspect has chosen which test to have administered, they cannot change their mind. You have the right to refuse to take DUI breath tests. However, that can leave a bad impression on a jury should your case go to trial. In addition, the DMV can suspend your license for 12 months due to a breath test refusal, rather than the 90-day suspension for a first offense.
Two types of DUI breath tests are used in Colorado. The PBT, or preliminary breath test, is a handheld device that is used at the scene prior to an arrest. The purpose of this test is to help the officer determine if probable cause exists to make an arrest and secure additional testing. Unless you are under the age of 21, you have the right to refuse this test and the results or the refusal is not admissible in court.
The other type of test, an evidentiary breath test, is done with a tabletop machine called an Intoxilyzer 5000. Per Colorado DUI laws, a suspect must be observed for at least 20 minutes to ensure there is nothing placed in the suspect’s mouth to create interference with the DUI breath tests. The suspect then provides two breath samples and the machine tests for a presence of alcohol.
This type of testing is not as reliable as the available blood tests. An experienced Colorado DUI attorney would likely look to records of the testing and maintenance of the Intoxilyzer machine prior to trial. Records could provide evidence of compromised reliability that could suppress the results from the DUI breath tests in a trial.
When you are pulled over as a suspect of DUI in Colorado, you will likely be asked to participate in a chemical test or field sobriety test to determine whether you are under the influence. You may choose not to take the tests, though there can be consequences with the DMV and a suspension of your license. If you have concerns about DUI breath tests, our attorneys can help explain the process to you and assist you in court if necessary.