DUI and express consent law: Refuse a chemical test, lose your license for a year

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DENVER -- Labor Day weekend is a good time to remind drivers not to drink and drive. There are strict laws in place that not everyone may be familiar with, like the express consent law.

The law has been on the books for years, but many people don’t realize that if you’re suspected of drinking and driving and refuse a chemical test, you automatically lose your driver’s license for a year.

“Lots of our clients haven’t known about it, but it’s real and can cost you your license for a year,” criminal defense lawyer Dan Recht said.

“When people make a decision to drive under the influence, it’s always new to them and the ramifications that come along with that are not always known,” Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Rob Madden said.

If you drive a vehicle in Colorado, you have already given express consent.

“You can see that on your driver’s license and when you take your driver’s test you learn about it,” Madden said.

So if you are asked and refuse to provide a chemical sample, you’re not abiding by the law.

“You do have the option to take a blood test or breath test. If you choose not to take a test, then your license is going to be revoked,” Madden said.

As long as there is probable cause, a criminal defense attorney says it’s the law.

“The only thing you have to do is take the chemical test. When they ask you to do the roadside exams you do not have to do that. It will be used against you in court, but it doesn’t cause you to lose your license for a year the way that refusing a chemical test does,” Recht said.

The first and most obvious recommendation is don’t drink and drive.

“Most people should probably just take the test because you don’t lose your license for a year. Normally, you work something out where you save your license or get a probationary license or something other than a complete loss of your license, even if you have been drinking,” Recht said.

Your first refusal of a chemical test is an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for one year. Second refusal is two years, and your third offense would leave you without a driver’s license for three years. It’s an important law to be aware of, but more important not to drink and drive.