Under California’s ‘implied consent’ law, having a driver’s license requires you to implicitly agree to submit to a Breathalyzer or other chemical test to read your blood alcohol concentration post-arrest. Many drivers assume this means they have no choice but to submit to these tests if an officer asks them too. However, this is not the case. Drivers may refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer or other chemical test if they are will to face the consequences.
What are the consequences of refusing chemical testing?
In California, failure to submit to chemical testing post-arrest will result in a statutory license suspension of one year, if it is your first refusal. Drivers with a DUI or reckless driving conviction within the last ten years or a previous refusal will have their license suspended for two years. Drivers with multiple DUI or reckless driving convictions in the last ten years or two previous refusals may face a three-year license suspension. Refusing chemical testing also comes with a $125 fine.
Refusing testing can help you avoid a DUI conviction
While there are serious consequences to refusing a test, it may be in your best interest to do so. Chemical test results will likely be the heart of the prosecutor’s case against you. Without chemical test results, prosecutors will have a much more difficult time proving that you were driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, as they will have to rely on officer observations and field sobriety test results (if you submitted to those tests).
However, keep in mind that many drivers have gotten convicted of a DUI even after refusing chemical testing. It is also important to note that your license will remain suspended for the statutory term limit even if you are not convicted of a DUI.
It can be difficult to know what to do if you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. A criminal defense attorney can help you defend against any DUI-related charges, even if you submitted to chemical testing.