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Know your chemical testing rights before driving in Colorado

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when a seemingly routine or benign situation suddenly snowballed into a very serious problem? Such circumstances can be devastating under certain conditions. For instance, what if you are driving home after a social gathering at a friend's house and forgot that one of your headlights is out and that you intended to change it before driving to the party that evening? Most Colorado motorists would consider this a minor problem.

If you drive home anyway, assuming a cop will merely issue a warning if he or she pulls you over, you definitely wouldn't be the first person who has done so. That unexpected snowball (or avalanche) may hit, however, if the police officer doesn't even mention your broken headlight but instead, asks you to step out of your vehicle. This is usually a sign that the officer thinks you've committed a crime, likely, impaired driving. How well you understand your rights from that point on may significantly impact your future.

Legal implications regarding chemical breath and blood tests

Implied consent laws apply in Colorado. This means you agreed (when you signed your driver's license) to submit to any chemical breath or blood test a police officer lawfully requests upon determining probable cause and arresting you on suspicion of drunk driving. If you refuse an officer's request, you are subject to automatic administrative penalties under implied consent regulations.

You may choose the type of test

While you must comply with a lawful request for chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol content level under DUI suspicion (or risk administrative penalty), you are able to request a Breathalyzer or blood test if you are age 21 or older. Once you elect to take a particular type of analysis, you may not change the request.

Inability to take a Breathalyzer test

Perhaps you have a physical deformity that would impede your ability to blow into a Breathalyzer test device. Your disability may be congenital or exist due to a past injury. You may also have a particular illness or disease that would make it difficult to take a breath test. If so, then the officer is to request a blood test instead. Also, if the test is administered at a location that does not have a certified testing device on hand, a blood test must be conducted instead.

Other issues that may affect the outcome of your situation

Various extenuating circumstances may interfere with the timely collection of your blood or breath sample when you are under suspicion for drunk driving. Police officers are bound to adhere to strict protocol regarding requests for chemical testing and administration of such tests. If you think someone has violated your rights during or following a DUI arrest, you can take immediate steps to rectify the situation.

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