Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in California?

Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in California?

| Jun 15, 2020 | DUI Defense |

After a fun and harmless night out with friends at the bar, you hear that police siren, see those flashing lights and know that a patrol car is pulling you over. You wonder why the cop is stopping you and think back, trying to remember if you might have swerved too much in your lane or might have rolled through that turn at the stop sign. Regardless, the officer is going to ask you some questions. It would not be so bad if the scent of alcohol was not still on your breath, but it is. At a moment like this, you worry the cop will ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, and you wonder if you can and should refuse.

Before you make a decision, here’s what you need to know:

Refusing the test forfeits your driving privileges

California has “implied consent laws,” mandating that any driver who is arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) must submit to a chemical test to detect the amount of alcohol or drugs in their body to see if the amount exceeds the legal limit. Police can test your breath, blood or urine, and they are supposed to give you a choice which to test. Your consent to the test is an implied part of your request for a driver’s license.

You can, however, still decline to be tested — but not without consequences. If you refuse to be tested, police will immediately have your driver’s license suspended for one year. Furthermore, if you refuse within 10 years of a different DUI, they will suspend your license for two years. If it is within 10 years of two or more prior DUIs, your license will be suspended for three years.

Legal expertise when you need it

If you are facing charges of suspected DUI, you could have a lot at stake, like your reputation and potentially your employment. It is vital you talk to an experienced San Diego defense attorney who can explore your legal options and fight on your behalf to see you get the fairest treatment possible under California law.