When a person is stopped and asked to take a Blood Alcohol Test, a refusal to do so, may lead to serious consequences. When a person is granted the privileges of driving in California, along with the obligations and duties is implied consent to cooperate if a driver is questioned by officers regarding a possible DUI. By holding a valid driver’s license, you are agreeing that if you are stopped by officers, you will comply with requests to take a breathalyzer or blood test in order to test your blood alcohol content (BAC). Refusing to take the BAC test will have serious consequences because you are going against your previously given consent.
During a DUI arrest, officers will administer BAC tests at two separate occasions. You will be given a field sobriety test at the scene of the stop when the officer initially questions the driver. The initial sobriety test is not required by law and will not have severe consequences for refusal. However, the breath or blood test you are asked to take after being taken into custody at the police station is required by law. You do have the right to refuse, but will face additional consequences if convicted of a DUI.
If you refuse to take the breath or blood test that is required, officers must admonish you of the consequences. They must read it verbatim from a form and have you sign it acknowledging that you understand the additional penalties you may face for having refused. If this form is not read and signed, there is a strong argument for any additional penalties incurred as a result of the refusal to be dismissed.
If a person refuses the BAC test after having been admonished of the possible additional consequences and they are convicted of a DUI, they will most likely be sentenced to mandatory jail time. Those that have opted to refuse the test may be looking at 48 hours of jail time and a year long suspension if they are a first time offender. Second time offenses may be sentenced for 96 hours of mandatory jail time and a 2 year license suspension. Third time offenders will be penalized with 10 days jail time and 3 years of license suspension.
These penalties are in addition to the general DUI sentence. The refusal is an enhancement that adds additional jail time, fines and length of license suspension to the general DUI penalties. For example, a woman is charged and convicted of a Southern California DUI for the first time. In addition to the DUI, the woman refused to take the breath or blood test at the station giving her the added enhancement of a refusal. The Judge sentences her to a day in jail and a fine of $1000 and probation. As a first time offender of a DUI she may be penalized a fine between $390 to $100 and very minimal jail time, if any. However, because she refused the BAC test, her jail time will be a 3 days (the one day and additional 48 hours) as well as the fine and probation. The DMV hearing will determine the suspension or revocation of driving privileges. What the DMV hearing officer decides will have an added suspension of one year if there was a refusal.
When you are arrested for a DUI, the consequences of a refusal are not something you think about. However, they do come up as an issue later on during the Criminal proceedings and the DMV hearing. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer can prepare a powerful defense in your favor to help mitigate or dismiss the additional penalties.