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What Happens When You Refuse a Chemical Test?

  • July 23, 2018

    What Happens When You Refuse a Chemical Test?

    In California, the police must have reasonable cause to suspect a driver in under the influence of alcohol to be able to administer a breath or blood test. Drunk driving cases in California are reaching a tipping point, and DUI checkpoints, field sobriety testing, arrests, and convictions, have become more of the norm that the exception in this region of the country. Many drivers who are pulled over for suspicion of driving drunk or roll up to a DUI checkpoint are not aware of the consequences of what happens when you refuse a chemical test.

    The best thing to do before making that decision is speak with a Los Angeles DUI attorney, if it is too late, then it is imperative you have legal representation try to dispute that refusal.

    Why Was I Asked to Take a Chemical Test?
    Leading up to the testing, the arresting officer may have observed physical or behavioral patterns that gave them reasonable cause. If the officer made you pull over, they may have seen a number of driving patterns that you exhibited that were similar to that of a driver who is intoxicated. If you rolled up to a DUI checkpoint, the officer may have observed patterns in your behavior such as slurred speech, watery eyes, or a combative personality, that made them decide to have you take the chemical test. The officer could have confirmed their suspicions by having you take one of many field sobriety tests that could have revealed you were too impaired to drive.

    If you refused to take the chemical test, you were arrested and that refusal comes with severe consequences. Your DUI attorney can look at the video footage and listen to the audio of the arrest process to make certain there was reasonable cause and make certain the arresting officer upheld your rights.

    Refusing to Take the Chemical Test?
    Refusing to take the chemical test is like an admission of guilt in the eyes of the court. In California, that comes with a one year loss of license, and possibly even more serious consequences like jail time. One thing that many drivers are not aware of is that driving in the state of California is a privilege, it is not a right. When signing up for your license, in exchange for the ability to drive, you consent to testing to make sure you are safe behind the wheel. Refusing the chemical test is in a sense giving up your privilege to drive. Although you aren’t arrested at the point of refusal, the prosecutor in your case could still push for a DUI charge based on evidence like the field sobriety test, witness testimony, and officer observations.

    The refusal makes it more challenging for your DUI attorney to dispute the blood or breath testing because there will be none. The refusal will be used against the driver in court, your attorney will have to work hard to try and dispute the remaining evidence to get the charges dismissed or the penalties lessened.

    What is the Implied Consent Law?
    By not submitting to the chemical test in California, the state has the right to revoke your driving privilege, levy fines and penalties, and put you in jail. The implied consent law means that any driver in the state of California has implicitly given consent to a chemical test in exchange for the privilege to operate a motor vehicle. According to this law, any driver in California is essentially surrendering their driver’s license when they refuse a chemical test. Although a first offense in California is a one year loss of license, that penalty increases with each instance of DUI and the severity of the charges.

    Your Los Angeles DUI attorney will have little to work with the driver refusing to take the chemical test, but it is not impossible to get a favorable ruling. During the DMV hearing, your attorney will have to subpoena the arresting officer to try and poke holes in the prosecution case before it goes to the criminal court.

    What Happens When You Refuse a Chemical Test?
    If a driver refused to take the chemical test to avoid incrimination, a no-refusal DUI enforcement could be implemented. In this instance, the arresting officer can force a driver suspected of DUI to submit to a chemical test by the authority of a field warrant they secure on their mobile device at the time of the arrest. If the driver refuses the warrant-ordered testing, the result will be serious contempt charges added to the DUI charges.

    In this instance, a driver does have the right to call a DUI attorney at the scene to discuss which test to take.

    Have the Refusal Case Carefully Analyzed by an Attorney
    In the state of California, a first offense for refusing to take a chemical test is one year loss of driving privileges. Don’t just assume that you have no defense, call for a free consultation with a Los Angeles DUI attorney so they can analyze the specifics of your case to see if the DUI stop was lawful and the arresting officer did everything according to the books.

    Disputing Test Results One of the biggest areas of dispute in DUI cases is the field sobriety and breathalyzer testing. In the past, there have been many cases in which these tests were administered incorrectly by an officer, leading to a DUI arrest that may not have been necessary. An experienced DUI lawyer Los Angeles can capitalize on this, calling into question the officer’s knowledge and experience in administering the tests. Many times, the key to winning these cases is raising the level of doubt in the judge’s mind as to whether or not the tests were properly administered.
    Plea Bargaining
    One of the biggest reasons to hire a Los Angeles DUI lawyer is when there is an excellent chance for a plea bargain. This is done most often when the BAC is .10 or less, there were inconclusive results from the field sobriety tests and no unusual behavior from the defendant. In these cases, an experienced DUI lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charges reduced from driving under the influence to reckless driving. In most states, reckless driving is a misdemeanor and will result in a much lighter sentence. In cases where the prosecutor feels their case isn’t strong enough to get a DUI conviction, reckless driving is considered to be a fallback charge that will help move the case through the court system quickly and efficiently.
    Understanding the Process
    Above all, hiring an experienced Los Angeles dui attorney can help a person have a better understanding of the legal process. Most attorneys experienced in these cases know the judges and prosecutors who handle these cases, and have a good understanding of how they tend to rule in such matters. Another major advantage of hiring an attorney is making it harder for a prosecutor to choose to go to trial. Even if the test results are borderline at best, a prosecutor is almost always much more willing to take a case to trial if a person has no legal representation. While some lawyers may guarantee they can get the charges reduced, this is not always the case. However, most criminal defense lawyers are very honest with clients and will carefully assess the situation and provide an honest opinion as to the possible outcome of the case.

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