In 2014, Colorado made major changes to its DMV code with regard to DUIs. These changes affected both first time offenders and repeat offenders alike and include significant changes to the duration of a driver’s license revocation and requirements for reinstatement. Here’s what you need to know.
Refusing a Roadside Sobriety Test Versus Refusing a Chemical Test
Roadside sobriety tests are different than a chemical test of your blood or breath. Roadside tests are the tests you see where people try to walk in a straight line or balance on one leg. Roadside tests are voluntary. You do not have to agree to do them. Refusing the roadside tests do not have an impact on your driver’s license.
Chemical testing involves taking a sample of your blood or breath to determine how much alcohol is in your system. While you can refuse a chemical test, refusing does have an impact on your driver’s license. What’s new in the law is that the consequences for a refusal have been significantly reduced.
A refusal now results in a 60-day license revocation instead of one year under the previous law. In addition, when someone is convicted of DUI after a refusal, the revocation for the DUI itself and the refusal run concurrently — that means both revocations are served at the same time instead of being added together as they were previously.
While refusing a chemical test now has a less severe penalty than before, the penalty is still more than if you agree to take a chemical test. Not to mention, if the amount of alcohol in your system is below the legal limits, a chemical test could be helpful to you. In addition, evidence of the refusal can be used to prove a DUI charge.
There are also situations when a blood test may be forcibly administered, such as if there was an accident involving serious injuries or death and the police have reason to believe you are under the influence.
Persistent Drunk Driving
While Colorado law speaks of “persistent drunk driving” a better name for it would be aggravated drunk driving. Repeat DUI offenses are just one reason for enhanced penalties under the persistent drunk driving rules with DMV.
If you refuse a chemical test you will be labeled a persistent drunk driver even if it is the first time you have been charged with a DUI.
Having a BAC of .150 or greater is also grounds for a persistent drunk driving label. This is down from the .170 BAC required under the previous law.
Being labeled a persistent drunk driver increases the requirements to get your license reinstated.
Ignition interlock devices are now a standard post-conviction requirement throughout the country. Ignition interlock systems are connected to a car’s ignition system and perform a breath test on the driver that prevents the car from starting if the driver is above the legal limit. Colorado continues to require these devices and has increased how long they must be used in certain situations.
Anyone who is labeled as a persistent drunk driver must have an ignition interlock system for a minimum of two years. This label includes people who refused a chemical test or had a BAC of .150 or higher even if the DUI charge was a first time offense.
Convictions with a prior DUI or DWAI continue to require two years of ignition interlock as under the previous law. However, the automatic license suspension for a DUI with a prior conviction is down to 60 days from one year.
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