During a routine DUI stop in Southern California, the officers will ask the driver to submit themselves for a field sobriety test. This is usually a breathalyzer test administered at the site of the stop and gives officers a preliminary idea regarding the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). This BAC test is not mandatory, and if completed, is completed as a courtesy and in an effort to cooperate with officers.
If a driver is taken into a police station on suspicion of the DUI, they will be offered a second BAC test, either blood or breath. The second test administered at the station is mandatory and refusal to do so can result in added penalties and consequences. When a driver is issued a California driver’s license they agree to comply and cooperate with officers during any DUI stop. This includes submitting to a blood or breath test so that officers may collect an accurate reading for the person’s blood alcohol content. This implied consent is an agreement between anyone with a valid driver’s license and the State of California and if violated warrants significant consideration.
When a driver refuses to take a BAC test at the station, it is considered an enhancement to the DUI charge. An enhancement results in penalties in addition to those of a DUI without refusal. This includes a longer suspension of driving privileges, additional fines and mandatory jail time.
Due to the fact that there are additional penalties officers are required to read an admonishment of rights to any person who refuses to take a BAC test. An admonishment of rights advises the driver that there will be added penalties if they are found guilty of a DUI and advises them that they are required by law to take a test, and failing to do so is a violation of implied consent.
The admonishment of rights has to be read word for word and at a time when the arrested person fully understands what potential consequences may be for refusing to take a BAC test. Any failure on the part of authorities to inform a driver of their rights and the consequences of relinquishing these rights will be taken seriously by the court in the interest of protecting rights and the notion of justice.
If it is proven in court that an officer failed to properly read a driver an admonishment of their rights in refusing to take a BAC test, the refusal will not result in added penalties. For example, Dan is arrested on suspicion of a DUI and taken to a station. At the station he refuses to take any kind of BAC test, adamant that he has not drank anything and the officer’s are wasting his time. Officers get busy with other inmates and in the meantime Dan falls asleep. The officers, meanwhile, read Dan an admonishment of his rights in refusing to take the BAC test and since he is asleep, skim most of the words and paraphrase. If Dan is found guilty of a DUI there will be no additional penalties due to a refusal because he was not properly read an admonishment of his rights.
Anytime there is a refusal in a DUI case, there is a potential for mandatory jail time. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer has handled many refusals and successfully reduced any additional penalties as well as mandatory jail time. If you are facing a refusal, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney that can help protect your rights and prepare a powerful defense.