When you drive in California, you may not realize all the different laws that apply to motorists in the Golden State. If police ever arrest you for DUI, though, you need to understand California’s implied consent laws. Through California’s implied consent laws, drivers must submit to breathalyzer tests or blood tests if police arrest them for drunk driving or driving while under the influence of drugs.
Implied consent after a DUI arrest
However, California’s implied consent laws only come into play after police arrest you for drunk driving. If you haven’t been arrested, you can refuse a preliminary roadside alcohol screening (usually a breathalyzer test) without penalty unless you are under age 21 or on probation for DUI.
If you refuse a breathalyzer test after police arrest you for DUI, you will have to pay fines and will have a one-year license suspension, whether you receive a drunk driving conviction or not. You can have your driver’s license suspended for two years if you’ve refused a DUI breathalyzer test before or have a prior DUI conviction.
Police will force you to take a blood test if:
- They have a warrant for the test.
- They suspect you of committing a felony DUI
- They suspect you of driving under the influence of drugs
If neither a breathalyzer nor blood test is available after your DUI test, you will have to take a urine test.
Should you refuse a chemical test?
Refusing a chemical test has advantages and disadvantages. If you take the test and register a .08 blood alcohol content level, the state has evidence you were driving drunk. If you don’t take the test, the state doesn’t have that evidence, yet prosecutors may argue you refused the test because you were driving drunk.
If you decide to submit to a chemical test and register a .08 blood alcohol content level, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Often, breathalyzer tests produce inaccurate results or other circumstances prompt prosecutors to lower or dismiss your DUI charges. With an attorney’s help, you can mount a defense against your DUI charges and try to avoid a conviction and the stiff penalties that come with it.