Each year, countless California residents are arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) based on the results of a breathalyzer or other chemical test. In light of this, many drivers mistakenly believe that, by refusing to perform the test, they can avoid an arrest. That decision, however, can lead to devastating consequences under the California Implied Consent Warning.
Designed to measure blood-to-alcohol ratio, chemical tests work by calculating the amount of alcohol found in a person’s bloodstream—a percentage known as blood alcohol content, or BAC. Like most states, California law prohibits any driver from operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Therefore, when a chemical test indicates an individual has a BAC above this limit, the driver in question will be arrested for DUI. Likewise, if the individual refuses to perform the test, the state’s Implied Consent Law also allows him or her to be charged with driving under the influence.
If you’ve never heard of “Implied Consent,” you’re not alone. Nevertheless, all California motorists are expected to comply with this legal guideline. How is that possible? Well, as a licensed driver, you agreed to abide by the state’s traffic laws, such as following the speed limit, obeying traffic signals, and most importantly, never driving under the influence of alcohol.
By accepting a California driver’s license, you agreed to adhere to the state’s BAC guidelines; thus, in the event that you are suspected of violating them, you are legally obligated to submit to chemical testing. This means that, if an officer suspects you are driving under the influence, you must allow him or her to administer a chemical test to determine your BAC—so if you refuse, you can expect to be arrested as a result.
It is important to know that the penalties for refusing a chemical test are just as severe as for failing. Along with an automatic license suspension, a refusal can cost up to $1,000 in fines and carry a maximum four-month jail sentence—and that’s just for a first offense. If you have been convicted of any other DUI charge within the past ten years, you’ll face even tougher punishment for an Implied Consent violation.
Fortunately, if you were arrested for refusing to perform a chemical test, you may be able to avoid many of the penalties listed above. Under state law, officers are required to inform you of the consequences of your actions—which means your charges may be dismissed if you were not warned about the state’s Implied Consent law.
In addition, you also have the right to choose the type of test you perform (be it a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test) and you must be placed under arrest before the test can be legally administered. If any of these requirements were not met, your case will most likely be thrown out of court.
To determine the best strategy for your situation, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately after your arrest. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled legal professional in your area, submit your information online today.