July 17, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Four-part Gallion Test Properly Applied in Determining Driver’s Attempt to Retract Refusal Untimely

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Schulte v. Colorado Department of Revenue on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

Criminal Law—Motor Vehicle—Express Consent—Blood or Breath Test—Refusal Untimely as a Matter of Law.

Police responded to a report of a car parked in the middle of a field. When an officer arrived, he found Schulte asleep in the car with the engine running. A deputy sheriff contacted Schulte and had him perform voluntary roadside maneuvers. Schulte did not perform the tests like a sober person, so the deputy asked him to submit to a chemical test under Colorado’s express consent law. Schulte refused. The deputy later arrested him, drove him to jail, turned him over to booking officers, and drove back to the scene. When the deputy returned to the jail, he completed the license revocation paperwork and began to serve Schulte with the notice of revocation. Before he could do so, Schulte asked to take a blood test. The deputy told him that it was too late. Schulte requested a Division of Motor Vehicles hearing to contest his license revocation. The hearing officer revoked his driving privileges, and the district court upheld the revocation.

On appeal, Schulte contended that the hearing officer and the district court erred when they decided, as a matter of law, that his retraction of his refusal was untimely. Colorado’s express consent law requires a driver to cooperate with law enforcement’s request to take a blood or breath test. If a licensee refuses to submit to a test, law enforcement must serve a notice of revocation on him or her and then take possession of the driver’s license. If a licensee does not offer to retract an initial refusal while the officer remains engaged in requesting or directing the completion of the test, the attempted retraction is untimely as a matter of law. Here, substantial evidence supports the hearing officer’s determination that Schulte did not cooperate with the deputy while the deputy was engaged in requesting or directing the test. The retraction of the refusal was untimely as a matter of law.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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