Thursday, April 30, 2009

COA: No absolute 2-hour time limit for refusal revocation

A panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals has held that there is no absolute statutory requirement that a request for chemical test by person suspected of DUI that is refused be made within two hours of driving. In Stumpf v. Dept. of Revenue, announced April 30, a driver was revoked by the Department of Revenue for refusing a request for chemical test made over three hours after the driver was involved in an accident. The driver appealed to the district court, which reversed the revocation because the request for chemical test was made more than two hours after the accident. The COA reinstated the revocation of the Dept., holding that the refusal was valid as long as the request for chemical test was made "within a reasonable time" following driving. The COA refused to draw any bright line definition of what constitutes a "reasonable time," but held that in this specific case, a test request that came approximately three and one-half hours after the accident was reasonable because it [a chemical test] "potentially could have yielded relevant evidence."

It is important to note that the COA specifically distinguished administrative revocations where tests were conducted, and instances where tests were refused. The Stumpf holding applies only to revocation cases involving refusals.