breathalyzer testYou see the lights flashing in the mirror and pull over. The officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test and to take a chemical test, often a breath test. Should you? What are the risks if you do or do not?

The best advice is to always have a designated driver and to never drink and drive; this is not only for your own safety and legal protection but for the safety of all others on the road. But assuming the police pulled you over and are asking you to take a chemical test, you have a choice to make—and each comes with consequences.

Read below for advice on how to make that choice.

Should I get out of the car?

If the officer asks you to get out of the car, cooperate and do so. You can refuse, but the officer may then order you to get out of the car, in which case you must exit the vehicle. Getting out of the car does not mean that you have to take chemical or field sobriety tests or answer any questions, though.

What happens after I get out of the car?

At this point, the officer will likely ask you to perform a field sobriety test or take a chemical test—usually a breath test. The wisest thing to do in most cases is to refuse to do so. Do not become combative or argumentative. Politely refuse to take the test.

Field sobriety tests are very difficult to pass, and even if you blow under the legal limit, the officer may still arrest you for suspicion of DUI. So avoiding giving the police officers any evidence that prosecutors might later use against you in court is often the best decision for the long-term.

What penalties do I face for refusing the breath test?

By obtaining a driver’s license, you provide implied consent to a chemical test if a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence. If you refuse to take the test, Colorado will suspend your license immediately. The license suspension lasts 12 months for a first offense, 24 months for a second offense, and 36 months for a third offense.

Refusal of the test can also be evidence of your intoxication and can be used against you in court. Remember, you may still be convicted of DUI even with refusal. Prosecutors may use your refusal as evidence that you knew you were intoxicated and, thus, refused to take the test. They may argue that had you been sober, you would have had no problem taking the test.

It is often a no-win situation. You face penalties for refusing the test, but the test can provide evidence against you in a DUI trial.

So what should I do?

The choice is of course yours. But consider the consequences of each decision first. Regardless of whether you took a chemical test or field sobriety test, or if you refused to do so, we will work with you to develop a defense based on the facts of your case. This might include investigating the equipment used by the officers to administer the chemical test, or explaining your reasons for refusing to take the test.

If you were pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, the odds are stacked against you. You need a criminal defense attorney on your side, fighting for your rights. Contact the Law Office of Andres R. Guevara at 720-379-8262.

Click here to find out how to know if the field sobriety tests are being properly performed by the police officer.