What Could Happen if I Refuse a DUI Chemical Test in California?

California follows the implied consent law, which means drivers imply their consent to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing just by operating a motor vehicle. If a driver is arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, they will be required to complete one or more of the following chemical tests:

DUI Chemical Tests in California

Breath test. A breath test is performed with a device that quickly measures the alcohol vapor in a person’s lungs. During a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) breath test, the device is usually a handheld. After an arrest, a breath test is performed with a larger device at the police station. However, breath tests have been challenged as unreliable. They are believed to have a greater margin of error than other chemical tests. Their results can be skewed by outside factors like mouthwash and human error as well as factors such as a person’s weight and age.

Blood test. Rather than a breath test, a defendant may choose to take a blood test. During a blood test, a blood sample is drawn and tested for chemical substances. However, like breath tests, a blood test may not accurately measure a person’s BAC. Factors that could skew the results of a blood test include improper storage or contamination.

Urine test. Urine tests are not available in California unless both the blood and breath tests are unavailable, the defendant has hemophilia or the defendant is taking an anticoagulant for a heart condition.

Consequences of Refusing a Chemical Test in California

If you are pulled over by an officer who suspects you have been drunk driving, he or she may ask you to undergo a PAS test such as a breath test. You are not required by law to submit to a PAS test unless you are under the age of 21 or you are on probation for a previous DUI conviction.

In concern to drivers under the age of 21, California has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Refusing a chemical test or failing a chemical test will result in an automatic license suspension of one year.

However, even if you are 21 years of age or older, refusal could result in an automatic license suspension of 12 months. If you have refused a test in the past or have been charged with a DUI in the past, then you could receive an automatic 24-month revocation.

In addition, if a law enforcement officer finds probable cause to believe you are under the influence, then they have the right to arrest you. If you are lawfully arrested, you are required under California law to submit to a breath or blood test.

Need a Fresno DUI Defense Attorney?

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Fresno, we recommend that you contact an experienced, California DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Under California law, a defendant only has 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to challenge the suspension of their license.

In some cases, chemical test results can be challenged. Though difficult, it is not impossible to prove that a breath test or blood test provided a skewed BAC. California outlines laws around alcohol testing. If the laws have not been followed or your tests were not administered correctly, it could be proven that the tests were inaccurate. While it may not clear a defendant of a DUI conviction, it could make it more difficult to convict you.

A DUI defense attorney can help you understand your rights under the law and maneuver through California’s DUI process. In addition, a DUI defense attorney could help you build a strong case for a more favorable sentence. Call Hammerschmidt Law Corporation today at (559) 233-5333 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

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