Insufficient Blood Alcohol Test Samples in a Los Angeles DUI Case

  • September 1, 2017

    When you are charged with Driving Under the Influence in California, it is the State’s burden to prove that you were intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle. To prove intoxication, the State may provide evidence your Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) is at or above 0.08%. This is a common tactic of the prosecution due to drivers facing stiff penalties for refusing to give BAC samples after their arrest. These penalties lead to most drivers providing the samples that incriminate them. But in some cases drivers are charged with refusal even when they have made every effort to provide a sample.

    What is Implied Consent?

    There are penalties associated with refusing to give a breath, blood or urine sample for BAC testing after an arrest because of something called implied consent. Under California Law, any person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given their implied consent to have their BAC tested upon suspicion of DUI. The testing must done at the direction of a law enforcement officer with reasonable cause to believe the person was driving while intoxicated in violation of California law.

    What Happens if I Refuse to Give a Sample?

    The penalties for refusing to give a BAC sample are as harsh as if you had failed, and come with additional repercussions. To begin with, a refusal triggers an automatic license suspension with the DMV. On the criminal side, a refusal can lead to a maximum of $1,000 in fines and up to four months in jail. Those penalties go up if it is not your first offense.

    What if I Try to Give a Sample but it’s Insufficent?

    At this point, what happens next is up to the law enforcement officer. If the officer claims you refused to give a sample or purposefully provided an insufficient sample you can face the consequences of a refusal charge as discussed above. Luckily, a skilled DUI attorney can help you. There are a few requirements the law enforcement officer is required to follow, and a failure to do any of these is a complete defense to a charge of refusal. Law enforcement officers are required to inform you, normally in writing, what the consequences of failing or refusing a BAC test are. Any failure to provide this information to you can lead to charges being dismissed. Additionally, it is your choice what type of BAC test is performed. Your options are breath, blood and urine. Any failure of the law enforcement officer to explain that you have the ability to choose the type of test or any interference in your choosing of the test type could also lead to charges being dismissed.

    There are still other strategies if the law enforcement officer follows all of the guidelines. Remember, there is a different between being unable to provide a sample and unwilling. There are valid reasons that could prevent all types of BAC tests. For instance, you might have a medical condition that prevents breathing hard enough to register a BAC breathe test. Other physical limitations might prevent you from providing a urine sample in the specified timeframe. And many people are unable to go through with blood tests due to fear of needles or religious beliefs. The job for your attorney is to make a case that you didn’t refuse, you simply were unable to provide a complete sample when requested. Any evidence of your attempts to comply will weigh in your favor. This can include your willingness to try different tests, or any efforts that led to partial but insufficient samples.

    Remember, the most important part of your defense is having a skilled Los Angeles DUI Attorney by your side.

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