According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you consent to chemical testing when you accept a driver’s license in the state. This means you must submit to test your breath, blood, or urine following a DUI arrest. If you refuse, you could lose your driver’s license for a year and face enhanced penalties if convicted of a DUI.
If law enforcement officers arrested you on a DUI charge involving drugs or alcohol, or you received a citation for refusal of a chemical test, you should discuss your legal options with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer as soon as possible. You have only a short time to fight the license suspension and pursue possible defenses in your case.
What Are California’s DUI Laws?
Under California Code VEH 11-12-2-23152, California has DUI laws similar to other states. Most drivers must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) under 0.08 percent to drive legally. Those on DUI probation, drivers under age 21, and commercial drivers have lower thresholds.
You could receive a DUI citation and face arrest if a police officer believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol after:
- A traffic stop
- A collision
- A DUI checkpoint
In any of these situations, officers may ask you to complete preliminary sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line or standing on one foot. Alternatively, if they have other reasons to believe you are driving under the influence, they could arrest you and demand a chemical test.
When Can They Make Me Take a Sobriety Test?
You have a right to refuse some sobriety tests. For example, the roadside tests that require you to perform physical tasks are never mandatory. Law enforcement can only demand that you submit to roadside breath tests—known as Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS)—before an arrest when:
- You are under the legal drinking age
- You are on probation for a previous DUI
While most drivers have a right to refuse PAS before arrest, police officers can arrest them and move forward with demanding a chemical test. Once you are under arrest, you will face additional penalties if you refuse a chemical test.
What Are the Penalties for Refusing a Required Chemical Test?
Drivers who refuse to submit a sample for a chemical test following an arrest will face additional sanctions and still must fight DUI charges. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23612 VC, penalties for a first offense include:
- Additional mandatory jail time
- The suspension of your driving privileges for one year
- No opportunity for a hardship license during this period
You will likely face a DMV license suspension for refusing a chemical test regardless of the outcome of your DUI case. However, you can fight your suspension with help from a DUI attorney.
Can I Avoid a DUI Checkpoint in California?
Many people encounter police officers and face the possibility of a chemical test at a DUI checkpoint. For this reason, it is important to understand your DUI checkpoint rights. While DUI checkpoints are legal per the California Supreme Court under Ingersoll v. Palmer (1987), you can avoid them.
You can turn, turn around, or otherwise avoid a checkpoint if it is legal to do so. Do not violate traffic laws to avoid a checkpoint, or the police officers will have a reason to follow and stop you.
If you get stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the usual laws apply when it comes to submitting to sobriety testing.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer After Refusing to Take a Chemical Test?
If you refuse a chemical test and face DUI charges, you should enlist the help of a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. You only have 10 days to challenge your license suspension. In addition, getting to work on your case early could mean your lawyer prevents prosecutors from ever facing charges or convinces them to file reduced charges, such as reckless driving, instead.
A DUI conviction could affect your everyday life in many ways. You want to avoid the harsh penalties for these convictions if possible. Working with a DUI defense lawyer offers the best chance of clearing your name or getting a reduced charge or sentence or another positive outcome in your case.
Our Team Will Discuss Your Legal Options With You for Free
At Simmrin Law Group, we know everyone makes mistakes. We are ready to help you move forward. We have a reputation for handling tough legal challenges and helping our clients get the peace of mind they need. Our attorneys have experience as public defenders and handle DUI cases regularly. We know what it takes to win.
Contact us today to discuss your next steps and how we may be able to help you get a better outcome in your Los Angeles or SoCal DUI case.