Contrary to what some people may think, a DUI case against a person is not dismissed based simply on the fact that there is no blood alcohol content (BAC) reading. Many people think that if they refuse to take a BAC test, then there is no evidence or proof against them that they were intoxicated while driving. Not only is this not the case, but it may lead to additional penalties if the person is found guilty.
When granted driving privileges in California, a person agrees to comply with authorities if stopped or questioned for a DUI. This implied consent is a silent acceptance when a person is issued a California driver’s license. When a person refuses to take a BAC test it is a violation of the implied consent and is taken into serious consideration by legislation and the Courts.
This BAC test refusal does not lead to a dismissal of a case due to lack of evidence. There are other types of evidence that will be introduced in court by Prosecution that could lead to a conviction. The officer’s report is considered evidence. It contains the arresting officer’s observations and account of the night of the arrest. This is referred to as discovery. Observations made by the officer are held with high credibility and will be taken into consideration by the Judge as strong evidence of the driver’s intoxication.
Officer’s will note things such as slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, blurred vision, failure to properly comprehend instructions and statements made by the driver. Also included in the police report will be the reason the person was stopped and questioned for a DUI. An officer needs reasonable cause to pull someone over. This is usually a traffic violation; speeding, illegal u-turn, weaving between lanes, etc. It can also be a check in good faith if someone is pulled over at the side of the road. The circumstances for stopping or questioning a driver will be included in the report, and may be strong evidence of intoxication.
This may seem circumstantial and difficult to use in proving a DUI case, but in many cases can be enough. For example, Jill is weaving in and out of lanes, nearly missing cars and is pulled over by an officer. Upon arriving at Jill’s window, the officer smells a strong odor of alcohol. He asks Jill if she has been drinking, and Jill responds with slurred speech that she only had a few Gin and Tonics at dinner. Jill is arrested and taken into custody where she refuses to take any BAC test and is properly read an admonishment of rights. Because Jill refuses to take a BAC test, there is no blood alcohol reading with which Prosecutors can prove her intoxication. However, the observations made by the officer and the statements made by Jill are strong and will likely lead to a conviction.
In comparison, Jack is pulled over for running a red light. Officers approach Jack and ask him if he has been drinking. Jack replies that he has not been drinking, apologizes and said that he had not slept in a few days and was in a hurry to get home. Officers do not smell any alcohol but Jack seems to be fidgety and his eyes look tired, and his vision is blurred. Officers ask Jack to take a field sobriety test which he refuses and is arrested. At the station the officers ask Jack to take a BAC test, which again he refuses. He is properly read his admonishment of rights for refusing. Although officer’s stopped Jack for running a red light, that may be the only thing he will be found guilty of. The officer’s observations may point to an intoxicated driver, but it isn’t strong enough to provide enough evidence for a DUI.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that because there is no BAC reading, the DUI will be dismissed. Consult a knowledgeable Los Angeles attorney to review the police report and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case.