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Can I Refuse a DUI Sobriety Test in California?

can i refuse a dui sobriety test

Can I refuse a dui sobriety test in California? Well, yes but with consequences. The phrase “no refusal” is commonly used when talking about DUI laws in California. In general, it refers to the fact that in California, when you applied for your drivers license you automatically “consented” to take a dui sobriety test be it a breath, blood, or urine test to determine if you are driving under the influence. Failing to allow these tests typically results among other penalties in an automatic license suspension.

Sometimes “no refusal” weekends are referenced–particularly during “high enforcement” weekends like New Year’s and the Super Bowl. These high-enforcement efforts are aimed at DUI suspects and designed to make the cases easier to prove in court. During a “no-refusal” period, officers give drivers the option to take a breath test. If the drivers refuse, they are transported to local hospitals or other medical facilities where, after the officers obtain a search warrant, professionals administer a blood test.

Theoretically, any weekend could be a no-refusal weekend, but police departments rarely employ this strategy due to the added cost and burden of blood tests, as well as the necessity of having judges on call to approve and sign warrants.

DUI Sobriety Tests in California

As mentioned, California is an implied-consent state, which means that, when you signed your drivers’ licenses, you consented to providing a breath or blood specimen upon a lawful demand from a peace officer. The test, and its results, directly affects your driving privileges. If a you provide a specimen which indicates a BAC of .08 or above, or even lower in some circumstances, your driver’s license may be suspended. If you refuse to provide a sample, the suspension period is often extended.

Moreover, under the DUI law, a BAC above .08 serves as prima facie proof of intoxication. In other words, if you fail a chemical test, about the only way to win at trial is to either discredit the machine or the person who administered the test.

Should I Take The DUI Sobriety Test?

According to recent data, 80 percent of drivers consent to a chemical test, which is a rather high figure. Many may not understand that they have a right to refuse the test. Depending on your exact situation, at times it may be prudent to politely decline the test. However, because California is an implied consent state, refusal to take the test will likely lead to an automatic license suspension (regardless of conviction for the underlying DUI charge). Officers often pressure drivers to take the test, but the Fifth Amendment gives the absolute right to remain silent when you are accused of a crime. This right extends not only to verbal and written statements but also to the performance of field tests or the surrender of a specimen of breath or blood. Officers can force a person to take a test only in extreme circumstances, including the issuance of a search warrant.

In fact, many mistakenly believe that they will be released if they pass the test. That is not necessarily true. Defendants may still be charged with DUI, and convicted, after passing a test depending on the amount of other evidence to use against you at trial.

Contact a Santa Rosa DUI Lawyer

Are you facing a DUI charge in Santa Rosa, Petaluma or another city in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California? Do you have questions about your legal rights? If so, reach out to our Santa Rosa DUI attorneys at Beck Law. Contact us today to start the process and have an advocate in your corner

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