Being pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be a scary experience. In California, a police officer needs probable cause to believe you’re driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in order to pull you over. If you’ve been pulled over for some other driving offense and the officer suspects that you’ve been drinking or are impaired from drug use, they will ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. You may later need to undergo a blood test, because the breathalyzer only indicates blood alcohol level (BAC) and not the presence of drugs in your system.
California law allows a law enforcement officer to request you to take a breathalyzer at two points in a DUI case:
- During the traffic stop, before any arrest is made. This is known as the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test You can refuse to take the PAS unless you are under the age of 21 or on probation for a prior DUI conviction. Refusal may result in an automatic arrest if the officer has good reason to suspect you’re driving impaired.
- After your arrest, as part of your processing. This is the formal breath test required by law. Refusing to take the test can result in harsher penalties.
In California, as in many other states, you agreed when you got your license to submit to chemical testing of your blood or breath at the request of law enforcement if you are arrested for driving under the influence. This agreement is commonly known as “Implied Consent.”
Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test after you’ve already been arrested for DUI can result in harsher penalties than an actual DUI conviction. And refusal to take the PAS may result in your arrest anyway, if the officer believes you have been driving under the influence. A skilled DUI lawyer might be able fight the results in court later, without the additional penalties hanging over you that come with refusal to take the breathalyzer. It is often not in your best interest to refuse to do a breathalyzer.
Penalties for BAC Test Refusal
If you refuse the breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test, you face additional penalties if you are convicted of DUI. These penalties vary based on whether this is a first offense or repeat offense.
First Offense DUI Refusal
- Additional 48 hours in jail
- Year-long suspension of your driver’s license
Second Offense DUI Refusal
- Additional 96 hours in jail
- Two- year suspension of your driver’s license
Third Offense DUI Refusal
- Additional 10 days in jail
- Three-year suspension of your driver’s license
And of course, all of these penalties for refusing to take the breathalyzer or blood test are tacked on to whatever penalties you face if you are convicted of DUI. So you see why it makes sense to go ahead and take the breathalyzer if you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence?
Can You Fight the Charges Resulting from Refusal to Do a Breathalyzer Test in California?
Yes, we can help you fight the charges related to refusal to take the breathalyzer. Possible defenses include, but are not limited to:
Unlawful DUI Arrest
If the court finds that the arresting officer did not have sufficient reason to pull you over in the first place, or probable cause to place you under arrest, then the DUI charges will be dropped. And if the DUI charges are dropped, you cannot face the enhanced charges for DUI refusal. Dropping these charges does not affect any potential license suspension through the DMV.
Officer’s Failure to Inform
If the officer failed to inform you ot the potential consequences for refusal to take the breathalyzer or blood test, we may be able to get the enhanced refusal charges dropped. By law, the police officer is required to give you a clear, detailed, and concise explanation of the consequences of refusing to take the breathalyzer.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense firm has decades of experience defending clients charged with DUI and related charges, both misdemeanors and felonies. We have a proven track record of winning.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer for a FREE Consultation
Whatever the circumstances of your case are, you need a lawyer working with you to help make sure you get the best possible outcome for you and your family. If you or a loved one has been accused of DUI, you need an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer on your side. We’re available to help you 24/7. Don’t talk to the police until you’ve talked with us.