Being stopped for a DUI in San Diego is a frightening experience that can bring on considerable stress. If an officer asks you to take a DUI test, such as a breath or blood test, refusing to do so might come naturally as a way to protect yourself. What many people might not realize, however, is that in California, refusing to submit to a chemical test — such as a breath or blood test — is against the law and may come with penalties.
At Dod Law, we understand that you might not be making the best decisions under pressure from a police officer interrogating you for DUI. Our criminal defense firm is dedicated to protecting your rights and ensuring that the officers did their jobs correctly. If you refused a breath or blood test during a DUI investigation in San Diego, your refusal may have complicated your case; but, don’t lose hope. Attorney Dod knows how to challenge the actions of the arresting officers and can attempt to dispute your refusal to take these tests.
When Can Police Request a Blood or Breath Test?
Police officers in California must have reasonable suspicion that you’ve violated the law to instigate an investigation. If they observe unsafe driving patterns, they may have reasonable suspicion to stop you and attempt to administer tests. At a DUI checkpoint, they may have noticed slurred speech or other physical signs of intoxication, which would give them reasonable suspicion to initiate a field sobriety test.
What Is a Field Sobriety Test?
The officer may request a chemical test after confirming their suspicion of intoxication, which takes place after witnessing your performance during field sobriety tests. An example of a field sobriety test is the one-leg stand test, in which the officer asks the driver to stand with one foot on the ground and the other foot raised approximately six inches above the ground. The driver must count for 30 seconds while the officer observes their balance.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is a 65% chance of having a BAC of .1 or higher if the driver makes 2 or more of the following errors during the test:
- Swaying while balancing
- Using arms to balance
- Hopping to maintain balance
- Putting their foot down
After evaluating your mental and physical faculties during field sobriety tests, the officer may request a breath or blood sample. Refusing to take these tests could lead to an arrest and complicate your DUI case.
What Happens if I Refuse a Chemical DUI Test?
In California and throughout the United States, driving is a privilege, not a right. California courts see a refusal to submit to a lawful request for a breath or blood test as an admission of guilt. Their reasoning is that, if you refuse these tests, you know you’re guilty of driving under the influence.
The penalty for refusing a chemical test includes a one-year license suspension. This penalty may increase every time you refuse a chemical test, and eventually, you may also be sentenced to jail. The state may also impose severe fines.
Due to implied consent, you agreed to submit to chemical tests when you signed for your driver’s license. The court sees your violation of the implied consent law as a surrender of your driving privilege.
While some believe that keeping evidence away from the prosecution will help their case, the reality is that the prosecutor still has other types of evidence he may use against you, such as:
- The arresting officer’s observations
- Witness testimony
- Your performance during field sobriety tests (this is captured on video)
Additionally, the arresting officer may receive a warrant during the DUI stop to force you to submit to a chemical test. Refusing to submit to a test after he or she obtains this warrant can lead to contempt charges on top of your DUI charge. You may call a lawyer at the scene to advise you on which test to take.
Should I Refuse a Breath or Blood Test in California?
Refusing to take a chemical test, such as a blood or breath test, in a DUI investigation ultimately makes it more challenging for your lawyer to defend you in court since your lawyer will not be able to challenge the breath or blood test procedures.
If you’ve already been arrested for DUI and you refused the chemical tests, there’s still a chance of avoiding the maximum penalties for your charges. Your San Diego DUI lawyer can evaluate the footage of your arrest to make sure the officer had probable cause for an arrest and upheld your rights. Your lawyer may also dispute the results of any tests you did agree to, including field sobriety tests. It’s important for your lawyer to do this, because a first time DUI conviction can result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.
Call Dod Law for Aggressive DUI Defense in San Diego
Attorney Dod of Dod Law has more than 17 years of experience practicing criminal defense in San Diego and nearby areas. He has handled more than 6,500 cases, including 75 jury trials.
Attorney Dod is deeply involved in the criminal law sphere in San Diego. He’s a member of the San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association and the National College for DUI Defense. With a passion for protecting the rights of his clients, you can trust that he will provide the appropriate guidance to help you win a favorable outcome. Call 619-814-5110 for a free consultation with a San Diego DUI lawyer or complete our contact form.