Law enforcement officers in California stop drivers suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) every day. During these stops, officers may use chemical tests – like the breathalyzer – to measure a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC).
Refusal to consent to a breathalyzer test may lead to criminal charges in some circumstances. Find out why it’s a crime to refuse a breathalyzer in California, the functions of a breathalyzer, and the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test with the Simmrin Law Group.
Implied Consent and Breathalyzer Tests in California
In order to legally operate a vehicle in California, you must have a driver’s license. All individuals with a driver’s license are subject to California’s “implied consent laws.” Basically, these laws state that by operating a motor vehicle you imply that you are willing to consent to BAC testing.
Therefore, legally you have already consented to complete BAC testing in California if the tests are legally requested. This includes breathalyzer assessments. Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer can be considered a criminal act, as you are violating the state’s implied consent laws.
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Understanding the Breathalyzer Test in Los Angeles
A breathalyzer is a small, hand-held device. You take a breathalyzer test by breathing into the device. It them measures your BAC to see if you are exceeding the legal limits set by the state. Note that you may face a DUI charge if your BAC is at or above:
- 0.01% if you are under 21
- 0.04% if you are a commercial driver
- 0.08% if you are over 21
The results of your breathalyzer test can be used as justification for a DUI arrest. The results can also be used against you in court.
Types of Breathalyzer Tests in California
Note that not all breathalyzer tests in California are treated the same way. Depending on your circumstances, you could be asked to complete a:
- Preliminary alcohol screening (PAS test)
- Post-arrest chemical test
Law enforcement officers can request that you complete a PAS test before you are arrested. You should be aware that you are not always legally required to agree to a PAS test. In fact, you may be legally allowed to refuse a PAS test UNLESS you are:
- Under 21
- On 21 probation
This right is supported under California Vehicle Code Section 23612 (g)(2)(B)(i). However, you must always comply with BAC testing after a legal arrest. Failure to do so is considered a criminal act.
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Other BAC Tests in the State of California
It is important that you understand that the breathalyzer is not the only test used to measure BAC in the state of California. You may also be asked to complete a blood test to measure your BAC. As with the breathalyzer, you must comply with this test if it is legally ordered.
In some situations, breath tests and blood tests are not available. If you are in this situation, the police may require you to complete a urine test. Urine tests are only used if breath or blood tests cannot be performed. As with other BAC tests, you may be legally required to complete a BAC urine test.
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Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer
Refusing a legally ordered BAC test can have serious impacts on your life. If you are convicted of refusing a breathalyzer you could face:
- A one-year license suspension for a first offense
- A two-year license revocation for a second offense
- A three-year license revocation for a third offense
You can also have time added to your jail sentence if you are convicted of a DUI. The court can add:
- Up to 48 hours for a first offense
- Up to 96 hours for a second offense
- Up to 10 days for a third offense
Due to the severity of these penalties, if is highly recommended that you comply with a police officer who requests that you complete a legally required breathalyzer assessment.
Get Help with DUI Charges in California
You can get legal help on your side right now if you were arrested for a DUI. The professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can even help if you refused to take a breathalyzer test that was legally required. We understand your situation and we’re ready to work on your defense, starting with a FREE initial case evaluation.
Contact our DUI lawyers in Los Angeles as quickly as possible once you are arrested. We can advise you on the best steps to take following a DUI arrest. Let us begin investigating your case and working to defend you today.
You can contact us easily when you need help. Just complete our online contact form or call (310) 997-4688. Our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles are standing by to offer you comprehensive legal support right now.