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What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in California?

Posted on in DUI

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.

For those who refuse to take the post-arrest test, your penalties start at an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license, even if you are completely clean of alcohol or drugs. If this is the second time you have refused a test, this suspension increases to two years. For a third refusal, a three-year suspension is assigned. You will have a $125 fee in addition to the suspension regardless of the number of times that you refuse the test. If asked to complete a BAC examination, you should be offered the choice between a breath, blood, or urine test.

Call a San Francisco DUI Defense Lawyer

In most arrests, it is better to stay silent and refuse any questioning or testing until you have an attorney present. However, refusing a test can result in consequences even without alcohol or drugs present in your bloodstream. Many Californians are unfamiliar with DUI implied consent laws and are surprised when they are penalized for trying to protect their rights. The legal team at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., has successfully represented thousands of drivers facing DUI charges, including those who have lost their license for refusing to submit to a BAC test. Attorney Paul Burglin founded his law firm in 1985 with the mission to help those facing criminal charges receive a reduced sentence or a not-guilty verdict. For help with your DUI case, contact our Napa DUI defense attorney at 415-729-7300 to schedule your free consultation. 



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