Do I have to submit to a Breathalyzer test?


You’re driving around town when all of a sudden you see lights flashing behind you. An officer is pulling you over. As you move to the shoulder, thoughts of what you might have done wrong are zooming through your head. The officer comes to your window, asks you a few questions, then asks you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. Should you comply? 

Most people in Colorado and elsewhere are taught that when an officer asks you to do something, you do it. So, when asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test, people do it. They think they don’t have any other choice. That is not necessarily the case. 

If you take the test 

If you take the test, you may end up with a high blood-alcohol content readout, and the office may promptly place you under arrest. You’ll face charges for driving under the influence of alcohol and likely spend the night in jail — if not longer. Then, of course, criminal proceedings will follow. 

On the flip-side of this, you may end up with a normal readout and sent on your way. It may not happen often, but it happens.  

If you refuse 

If you refuse to take the test, which is your right, officers will likely arrest you for refusing to comply. They may then obtain a warrant to force you to submit to the test. You may also: 

  • End up in jail 
  • Lose your driving privileges temporarily 
  • Have to pay fines 

Some believe that refusing is an admission of guilt. Others say it is a way to protect yourself as breath tests are notoriously unreliable. There is no right or wrong answer here. You have to do what you feel comfortable with. Just know that there are consequences for refusal. It may or may not be worth it in the end. 

You can defend yourself either way 

Regardless of whether you refuse or submit to a Breathalyzer test, if you end up arrested and charged with DUI, you have the right to defend yourself. If you refuse the test and officers fail to get a warrant to test you, that is one less piece of evidence they have to use against you in court. If you take the test, it can prove challenging to fight the results, but it is not impossible to get the results thrown out.  

There are various defense strategies you can use either way to help you achieve the best outcome possible. That may be a case dismissal, a reduction in charges or alternative sentencing.