California's Implied Consent Law
In California, if you are pulled over because an officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, it is likely that you will be asked to participate in various tests that will help the officer determine if you are intoxicated. If a driver in the East Bay is found to have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08% or greater, he will be charged with DUI.
Even if there is no chemical test given, you can still be charged with "Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and or Drugs." Further, if you refuse to take a chemical test, the police can contact a judge to get a warrant and do a "forced blood draw".
Refusing a Chemical Test in California
There are exceptions to some testing that need to be understood. If you are stopped, you do have the right to refuse to submit to the initial breath test, known as a preliminary test. This is true unless you are a minor (under 21 years of age), or you are currently on DUI probation, in which case you can be arrested for refusing the test. You also have the right to refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. These include the One-Leg Stand, Walk and Turn, and HGN, along with other tests.
You can refuse to submit to these tests because they are considered to be “voluntary” and “pre-arrest” tests that officers generally use to help determine a driver's level of intoxication.
Are There Penalties for Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test in CA?
Under California law, if a driver is stopped for DUI, he is expected to participate in chemical testing because of the state's implied consent law. In general, this law says that a driver in California has already given consent to submitting to these tests by driving on state roads and having been given a California driver's license.
Technically speaking, you have the right to refuse a blood or other chemical test upon your arrest. These are often administered at a hospital or at the police station. However, refusing one of these tests can lead to serious consequences.
The penalties associated with refusal can vary depending on whether you have been convicted of DUI in the past:
- 1st Refusal: One-year suspension of your driver's license
- Refusal after one prior DUI conviction: Two-year suspension of your driver's license
- Refusal after two prior DUI convictions: Three-year suspension of your driver's license
Furthermore, your time spent in jail and the length of the required alcohol/DUI education program will also increase if you refuse a blood or other chemical test. Remember, these penalties are in addition to the sentence you will be given if convicted for DUI.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in the Bay Area
If you have been arrested in Alameda or Contra Costa County for DUI and either submitted to or refused BAC testing, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney in that area. Lynn Gorelick has been defending clients in both counties for over 37 years. She has dedicated her practice to defending people just like you! Do not hesitate to contact Ms. Gorelick after an arrest to schedule a free, initial consultation. Ms. Gorelick is here to help.