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What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in California?

Okabe & Haushalter Apr 12, 2019 DUI

California has an implied consent law that makes drivers subject to be breathalyzed if they are stopped by a law enforcement officer for a valid reason. As our Los Angeles DUI defense attorney will tell you, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test you will be fined, lose your driving privileges and face potential jail time if it turns out that you are ultimately found guilty of driving under the influence.

Automatic BAC Testing Consent

When you apply for and receive your driver’s license in the state of California, you have also implied your consent to submit to any preliminary breath tests administered by law enforcement during valid traffic stops. Even if you are not under arrest yet, you are required by law to submit to a breathalyzer if requested.

Penalties for Refusal

As the officer who pulls you over will likely tell you, you are allowed to refuse the test if you wish. However, if you do, then penalties will result. The results of the breathalyzer test are used in most cases to establish your drunkenness or intoxication level, and thus—probable cause for you to be arrested. If you don’t take the test, it is not a guarantee that you will not be arrested. Quite the contrary, in fact; if the law enforcement officer has other reasons to believe you may be intoxicated, such as failing a field sobriety test or visibly noticing an open container in your car, you may be arrested anyway and at that point you will be given a mandatory BAC test regardless.

Separate Charge

In the state of California, refusal to submit to a BAC test in the field is a charge that’s separate from a DUI charge. Your prior record will help to determine the penalties you face, for the most part. A one-time refusal generally results in your driver’s license being suspended for 365 days. If you have a previous conviction for reckless driving or DUI or if you have refused to take a BAC test in the past 10 years, your license can be revoked for two years. If you have had two convictions for reckless driving or DUI or have refused the BAC three times in the past 10 years, you will lose your license for three years. There is also a fine of $125 for your refusal.

Bottom line: it’s hardly ever a good idea to refuse a BAC test. It doesn’t necessarily prevent you from being charged with DUI, so you may be making your case worse than it already is with your refusal.

Facing a DUI?

If you are facing a DUI charge in California, you need the best possible defense attorney by your side. DUI is a serious charge, and the ramifications of a conviction can haunt you for years to come. At Okabe & Haushalter, our Los Angeles DUI defense attorneys have helped thousands of clients fight their DUI charges and minimize the negative outcomes that come with a conviction. Call us at 310-430-7799 now to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation with our team of legal professionals.