What Happens When You Refuse to Take a Chemical Test?

Consequences of Refusing Testing and How to Prepare for an Arrest

When you are driving in California, you are presumed to have consented to chemical testing for blood alcohol levels (BAC) and/or drugs if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI. This is called California’s implied consent law, and it makes it mandatory for any driver in any State who has been lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a breath test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). There are some major consequences to refusing a chemical test post-arrest. Upon first refusal, you can have a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Upon the second refusal, you will receive a two-year suspension. Upon the last refusal, you will receive a three-year suspension. These consequences are certainly not ideal for any driver.

However, there are distinct differences between refusing to take a chemical test post-arrest and pre-arrest. After you are pulled over, but before you are arrested, you might be asked to take a handheld preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) breath test. There is no penalty for refusing to take a PAS breath test unless you are under 21 or on probation for a prior DUI conviction. It is important to remember that police will rarely present this as a choice. At this point in the process, the PAS test is merely a field sobriety test (FST). Like other FSTs, the PAS test is a tool to help the cop decide to move forward with an arrest.

What to Expect After Being Arrested for a DUI in California

When you are arrested for a DUI, you can expect the following steps:

  • Being pulled over by the officer

This is the way that most every DUI begins. Even if your car was not in motion, an officer still has the right to approach you. This is one of the most important steps in a DUI arrest because it requires that the officer have probable cause. Probable cause can refer to a wide range of instances, and it can be easy for an officer to find. Probable cause can include minor offenses like failing to signal at a turn and having a broken taillight.

  • You will be asked some basic questions

More than likely, one of the first inquiries the police officer will make is for your license and registration. The officer can also ask you for proof of insurance. This is when they might tell you why you have been stopped. If you feel comfortable asking, you should ask at this point. However, if the officer notices any hint of alcohol on your breath, you will proceed to the next step.

  • Field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests

If the officer is moving forward with an arrest, they will proceed to move forward with some tests, such as field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests. Breathalyzer tests estimate BAC indirectly by measuring the level of alcohol in one’s breath.

  • The arrest

Regardless of the results of your tests, the officers can choose to arrest you if they suspect that you were driving while intoxicated. The arrest will be a fairly standard process, and you may or may not be read your rights depending on whether the officer plans to interrogate you.

If you are arrested for a DUI in California, you will need to defend yourself against the DMV’s attempt to suspend your driver’s license against criminal charges by prosecutors. It will help to have an experienced lawyer on your side. If one of the crucial steps was not followed throughout your arrest, you might be able to have the charges dropped or reduced.

If you are arrested for a DUI and need legal representation, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

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