DUI Refusal Laws in California
Being arrested for driving under the influence can result in some pretty serious consequences. But, being arrested for DUI and then refusing to submit to a chemical test will result in even more serious consequences, as an Orange County DUI test refusal lawyer understands. In California, if you drive a motor vehicle, California’s Implied Consent Law requires that you submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine if you are arrested for DUI. This is used to determine the level of alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body at the time of the arrest.
It is important to note that you are required to submit to a chemical test only after you have been arrested. It is not mandatory that anyone submit to the field sobriety test, which includes the roadside hand held PAS device that police officers use to assist him or her in determining whether or not to arrest someone. The exception to this is that if you are under 21 years of age, you are required to submit to the roadside PAS test.
You might think that a “refusal” means that a person verbally refuses to submit to a chemical test. While this is true, there are other situations that can result in a refusal allegation. Here are a few situations to be aware of:
- Failure to respond when asked to take a chemical test. In other words, once the officer requests that you take the test; failure to respond to the request will be considered a refusal.
- Failure to complete the test. For example, if the officer requests that you take a breath test and you don’t perform the test correctly, this can be considered a refusal.
It is not required that anyone be given an option of which test to take. However, most arresting agencies will offer breath or blood when they suspect that the person is under the influence of alcohol. If, however, breath is the chosen test but comes back lower than the officer believes it should be, the officer could then request that you take a blood test. Refusing to take the blood test, even though you have submitted to the breath test, will result in a refusal. Likewise, if the breath test comes back with no sign of alcohol, the officer may then request that you take a urine test. Urine tests are used when someone is suspected of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Refusing to take the urine test, even after submitting to a breath test, will result in a refusal.
So, what are the consequences for refusing to submit to a chemical test? The punishments are quite harsh, and it is important to consult a DUI test refusal attorney in Orange County if you are facing this type of charge. The Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driving privilege for a period of one year without the possibility of obtaining a restricted license. When someone is convicted of a first offense DUI, after serving a 1-month “hard suspension”, they can apply for a restricted license, which allows them to drive to and from work and to and from an alcohol program. This is not the case with a refusal. Further, if someone has a prior conviction for DUI and then refuses to submit to a chemical test on a second, the Department of Motor Vehicles will revoke their license for a period of two years.
The Court will also impose harsh consequences for refusing to submit. If you plead no contest or guilty to DUI, the court applies refusal enhancements, which are as follows:
- On a first DUI, an additional 48 hours in jail is imposed and, rather than a three month program, a nine month program will be imposed;
- On a 2nd DUI, the Court will impose an additional 96 hours in jail, in addition to an extended alcohol program;
- On a 3rd conviction for DUI, the Court will impose 10 days in jail, along with a mandatory alcohol program; and
- On a 4th or more conviction for DUI, 18 days in jail and a mandatory alcohol program will be imposed.
For the above reasons, a DUI test refusal lawyer in Orange County will tell you that it is never a good idea to refuse to submit to a chemical test if arrested for DUI. However, if you find yourself in that situation, it is important to note that there are rules and procedures that the arresting agency must follow when arresting someone for DUI and procedures for requesting a chemical test. If the procedures are not followed properly and the officer is not diligent in documenting the procedures, there is a chance that the DMV will not suspend your license. This is why it is important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney who has experience in defending these types of charges in both the Courts and the Department of Motor Vehicles.