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What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in California?You have likely seen a Breathalyzer used in a traffic stop, either on television or by someone who has been pulled over. Since driving under the influence (DUI) is an important topic discussed in driver education classes, you may have even been able to try one out yourself. Many courses bring in the handheld machines to let students test them out by putting the small tube in their mouths, blowing, and seeing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) record appearing at 0.00. While you were sitting soberly in class, you probably never imagined yourself being in a situation where you would have to take the test. Unfortunately, many drivers will be asked to submit to the test at some point in their lives, with possible criminal charges to follow.

Knowing the Law

When sitting in your driver’s education course, all of the seemingly minor details of California roadway regulations can start to blend together. What you may have forgotten over the years is the details of California’s DUI implied consent laws. Upon signing up for their California driver’s license, all Californians sign over their right to refuse a breath alcohol test when asked by law enforcement. According to this law, any driver who is lawfully arrested for a DUI must submit to a chemical test to measure their BAC. You may be wondering what is considered a “lawful arrest.” An arrest is considered lawful if the officer has probable cause to conclude that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. 

So if you have yet to be arrested and a police officer asks you to submit to a breath test, are you required to do so? The general answer is no. The implied consent law does not extend to those asked to complete a chemical test before they have been arrested. This is known as a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). However, those under the age of 21 or on probation for a DUI must submit to the test since they are not allowed to drive with any alcohol in their system.

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How Does Getting a DUI Impact My California Car Insurance?Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a treacherous but common mistake that is made throughout the U.S. on a daily basis. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 10,511 deaths from drunk driving accidents in 2018. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is rarely intentional — many people may not recognize how easy it is to surpass the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit. Typically, anyone who consumes one standard drink per hour remains under this 0.08 line, but it can be easy to get carried away without even realizing it. Being charged with a DUI has serious consequences, many of which can impact your finances and your future.

Financing My Security

As is the case in most states, California requires all car owners to have proof of insurance of their vehicle. This shows that they are able to provide financial assistance for any injuries or damages that may have been caused by their driving. California’s average auto insurance rate is slightly higher than the national average — around $1,868 as compared to the national average of $1,548. However, this marginal difference increases significantly upon a DUI conviction. On average, insurance rates nationally increase by 65 percent if convicted of a DUI charge. In California, this insurance price rises to $4,937, a 164 percent increase from the state’s average rate. DUI charges typically result in the highest rate increase of any driving charge.

Other Consequences

The price of your car insurance will likely be the least of your worries if you are convicted of a DUI in California. For first offenders, their license will be immediately suspended for at least four months, an ignition interlocking device will be installed to the vehicle, and a $125 license reissue fee will be required. The guilty party can also face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. The driver is required to attend a DUI program and file an SR-22, labeling themselves as a high-risk insurance holder. This will affect their insurance rates, as described above, and make it difficult for them to find affordable insurance rates. Any subsequent DUI convictions have the same requirements with increased jail time and fines.

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