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Understanding DUI Breath Tests: To Blow or Not to Blow

In the realm of DUI arrests, the famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To blow, or not to blow – that is the question,” takes on a modern twist. When you find yourself pulled over for a suspected DUI and facing the request to blow into a breathalyzer, a critical decision awaits you. Should you consent to the breath test? What are the potential consequences of refusal? This article explores these questions to help you make an informed decision when confronted with a DUI breath test.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test: A Voluntary Challenge

In a typical DUI traffic stop, law enforcement officers often initiate the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), a series of physical and cognitive tasks designed to assess impairment. These tasks include standing on one leg or following a light with your eyes. It’s important to note that participation in the SFST is entirely voluntary. While officers may strongly encourage your cooperation, they cannot compel you to complete the test.

Refusing the SFST is within your rights, as even sober individuals may struggle with these tasks. However, it’s essential to understand that your refusal may be brought up in court during legal proceedings related to your DUI arrest.

The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT): A Roadside Assessment

Following the SFST, you may be asked to undergo a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) administered using a handheld breathalyzer device. Unlike refusing a breathalyzer test at the police station, refusing a PBT does not trigger an automatic 12-month suspension of your driver’s license in Colorado. This is a crucial distinction to bear in mind.

You can decline a roadside PBT without immediate repercussions to your driver’s license. Moreover, the results of a PBT are generally not admissible in court. However, it’s worth noting that the prosecution may introduce your refusal to take the PBT as evidence during legal proceedings, potentially impacting your case.

The Tabletop Breath Test: The Defining Moment

The breath test that holds the most significance in DUI cases is typically administered at the police station, and it is known as the tabletop breath test. Refusing the tabletop breath test has significant ramifications, including an automatic 12-month suspension of your driver’s license.

Declining the tabletop test may also convey a negative impression to the jury and judge, implying that you are attempting to conceal something. Consequently, refusing this crucial breath test can have far-reaching consequences, both legally and in the courtroom.


In conclusion, the decision of whether to submit to a breathalyzer test during a DUI stop is a critical one. While you have the right to refuse specific tests, weighing the potential consequences carefully is essential. When facing DUI charges in Colorado, seeking legal counsel is advisable. Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, a law firm specializing in alcohol and drug-related driving offenses, can provide valuable guidance and representation throughout the legal process. Making informed decisions and understanding your rights are crucial when navigating DUI-related situations.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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