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DUI: Refusing a Chemical Test

Posted on in DUI

Drivers in California often mistakenly believe that the law entitles them to decline or refuse to submit to a chemical test during a DUI investigation. While you may refuse to cooperate in the performance of pre-arrest field sobriety tests and even decline a pre-arrest breathalyzer, California law requires that you provide a blood or breath sample when arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.

The law of implied consent states that every motorist who operates a vehicle in California tacitly agrees and consents to give a blood or breath sample when validly arrested for DUI. If you decline to submit to a blood draw or a chemical breath test you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense and lose your driving privileges for up to one year on a first offense.

However, the arresting police officer has to follow strict rules in the performance of any chemical test and his failure to do so could result in a violation of your rights. First, he must unequivocally inform you that: 1) you are under arrest for suspicion of DUI; 2) you must submit to a chemical test; 3) you may choose between a blood or breath test and 4) failing to submit to a test is a violation of the law and will result in a license suspension for one year or license revocation for two or three years.

Besides a loss of driving privileges, refusing a chemical test could result in a jail sentence of up to one year or other jail alternatives, entry into an alcohol class, fines, and fees. Fortunately, there are defenses to DUI and refusal allegations and a good lawyer knows what to look for.

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