What is a Breath Test in Loveland, Estes Park, Berthoud, or Fort Collins?

In Loveland, Estes Park, Berthoud, or Fort Collins police officers and sheriff’s deputies use breath tests in roadside testing and following arrests to help determine if an individual was under the influence of alcohol while operating a vehicle.

A preliminary alcohol screening is often conducted through a portable breath test (PBT). A PBT unit typically produces an estimate of the individual’s level of intoxication. Portable breath test results are commonly inadmissible in court because the devices are not considered sufficiently accurate or subject to the same requirements as more precise tests.

A post-arrest breath test generally requires an approved breathalyzer machine that has been subject to the calibration requirements of the state or federal government. These machines are often located at a facility and typically produce more reliable results that could be admissible in court. In Colorado, the Evidential Breath Alcohol Testing program under CDPHE calibrates and certifies the machine of choice, the Intoxylizer 9000 (I-9000).

If you were subjected to a breath test after a traffic stop and are facing DUI or DWAI charges, contact The Harrell Law Firm, PLLC immediately at 970-791-2006. Sean P. Harrell is here to help.

Can You Refuse a Breath Test in Loveland, Estes Park, Berthoud, or Fort Collins?

You can refuse a breathalyzer test following an arrest, but you should be ready to face the serious consequences that generally follow a refusal. It is important to note that all states have a type of implied consent laws. Under such laws, drivers consent to testing for drunk driving in exchange for the privilege of operating a vehicle. Colorado’s Express Consent law is no different and creates automatic consequences for refusing to participate in the collection of a chemical sample when you are accused of drunk driving.

Under Colorado’s Express Consent law, C.R.S 42-4-1301.1, an individual who refuses a breath test could face immediate loss of the privilege to drive.

Additionally, in Larimer County and Weld County, a breath test refusal can generally be used as evidence against an individual at trial.

Problems with the Breath Tests in Colorado

Unfortunately, the commonly used breath tests are not always an accurate representation of an individual’s level of intoxication. For that reason, it is important for an individual not to assume that they are guilty of a drunk driving offense because of breath test results.

Many of the problems with breath tests relate to the testing device or machine, the individual operating the device or machine, or the test sample. For instance, some of the common problems that could provide inaccurate results include:

  • Broken or untested device
  • Uncalibrated device
  • Testing performed by an untrained person
  • Failure to follow testing protocols
  • Improper instructions
  • Medical conditions suffered by the test taker

The results of a breath test can be challenged throughout a case, even prior to a trial to try to suppress any evidence due to problems with a breath test device or the results.

How an Attorney Can Challenge Breath Tests in Loveland, Greeley, or Fort Collins

A breath test is often a substantial part of the prosecution’s case involving a DUI or DWAI offense. For that reason, it is essential to ensure that a breath test was performed correctly and the results are accurate.

A DUI or DWAI defense attorney understands the many potential problems with breath tests that can cause unreliable results. Challenging the sufficiency of breath test results typically requires obtaining evidence about the test and filing the necessary motion to seek suppression of the test results.

It is crucial that an individual does not assume that the results of a breath test are accurate and unable to be contested simply because a law enforcement officer performed the test. Breath tests can be challenged and should be challenged when appropriate. Call The Harrell Law Firm, PLLC today at 970-791-2006 or fill out a Client Intake form online to schedule a Free Initial Consultation today.