According to California law, every person who is lawfully arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) must submit a breath test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For an arrest to be lawful, an officer must have probable cause to believe that you were committing a DUI. If a driver refuses, they may face serious consequences. If you think you were arrested unlawfully or you refused to take a test to determine your BAC, it’s vital to seek legal representation immediately.
What Is California’s Implied Consent Law?
California’s implied consent law makes it mandatory for any driver in the state, regardless of whether they have a California driver’s license, to provide evidence to determine their BAC. The law also applies to DUI blood tests. Bear in mind that this law only applies to drivers who have been lawfully arrested. If a police officer has not arrested you, you do not have to complete a breath test.
What Is a Pre-Arrest Preliminary Alcohol Screening Breath Test?
A police officer can request that you take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) before they arrest you. A PAS is essentially a roadside breath test police officers use to determine BAC quickly. Essentially, this is another field sobriety test, like walking in a straight line or saying the alphabet backward. If you have not been arrested yet, you may be able to legally refuse to take a PAS unless you are:
- 21 years of age or younger
- On probation for a previous DUI conviction
If you do not fall into either of those categories, the prosecution cannot use a refusal to take a PAS as evidence. However, if you agree to take a PAS, the prosecution can use those results against you.
Can I Ever Be Required to Take a Blood Test?
A police officer may require you to take a blood test under three conditions: there’s a warrant for the test, there’s suspicion of a California DUI felony, or there’s a suspicion you were driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).
A Warrant for a Test
Police officers can legally require you to take a blood test, also known as a chemical test, when they obtain a valid warrant. Warrants are issued by judges, who then review the evidence before signing it.
Suspicion of a DUI Felony
In California, a DUI is a felony when:
- An accident causes injury
- The accused has three or more DUI convictions within 10 years
- The accused has at least one DUI felony conviction
If police officers have enough probable cause that the DUI is a felony or if they cannot obtain a warrant quickly enough, they may force you to take a blood test.
Suspicion of a DUID
Law enforcement can also require a blood test when a clear indication of drugs will be found in your system. A clear indication might be you stating you have taken drugs recently, drug intoxication symptoms, or physical evidence of drug use.
What Happens If I Refuse a Blood or Breath Test?
If convicted, you may face two potential consequences for refusing to take a breath test. You may lose your driver’s license for a period of time. Also, you could potentially face enhanced penalties to the standard California DUI sentencing. These enhanced penalties may depend on how many prior DUI convictions you have.
For a first DUI offense, you could face an additional 48 hours in jail and be subject to take a nine-month DUI class. For offenders who do not refuse a test, the DUI class is only three months.
If you have more than one offense within 10 years, penalties may become more severe. For instance, on your second offense, you may face an additional four days in jail. For a third offense, it’s an additional 10 days. For fourth and subsequent offenses, you may face an additional 18 days in jail.
Contact a California DUI Attorney Today
If you believe you were unlawfully forced to take a DUI test or you refused to take one, you must immediately seek legal representation. Attorney Dod of Dod Law is an experienced San Diego DUI attorney who has the knowledge, experience, and skill needed to represent you. With a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating, he was named on the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers.
Call (619) 814-5110 or complete a contact form to speak with Attorney Dod today.