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DUI/DWI Tests: What Can and Can't I Refuse?

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | May 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

If you are stopped by a police officer and told to take a DUI/DWI test, you may be wondering whether it is within your rights to refuse. Here is a guide to the various forms of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing and whether they are they are legally required in California:

BAC, Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Testing

Breathalyzer Test: 

When you are pulled over for possible drunk driving, you may be asked to take a breath test to measure your BAC. Because the calibration of handheld breathalyzers varies, you are not required to submit to this test unless you are under 21 years of age or currently on probation. If you are arrested after refusing to take a breath test, you may be given one at the police station, which you can potentially turn down in favor of a blood test.

Field Sobriety Tests: 

There are three field tests commonly administered during a DUI/DWI stop to establish probable cause for arrest. The “Walk and Turn” test involves taking nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line before turning around and heading back the same way. During a “One Leg Stand” test, subjects are asked to balance on one foot for 30 seconds while holding the other foot in front of them. Officers may also check for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, in which the eyes have difficulty smoothly tracking a moving object. Because these measurements are subjective and can be influenced by many factors, you are not legally required to submit to them.

BAC Blood Test:

This method of determining BAC is far more accurate than breath testing, as it is administered by a clinical professional and directly measures the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. If you fail to submit to either a breath test or a blood test, you may be seen as violating the implied consent given when you received your driver's license, which rarely works in your favor during sentencing.

If you have been arrested for a DUI/DWI in the San Francisco area, call the Gorelick Law Offices at (510) 785-1444.  Attorney Lynn Gorelick has nearly 30 years' worth of experience defending those who have been accused of drunk driving.

Disclaimer:  The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 38 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the Immediate Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense. Lynn is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Lawyers Association and lectures frequently to other attorneys regarding DUI and DMV issues.


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