What are the Potential Consequences for Refusing to take a Blood Alcohol Test During a Los Angeles DUI Stop?

  • September 1, 2017

    When you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, you are legally obligated to submit to a blood alcohol test, and reusing to take this test could lead to even harsher penalties if you’re eventually convicted of a DUI. When you are issued a California driver’s license, you implicitly give your consent to cooperate with a DUI investigation whether you know it or not. If you hold a valid driver’s license, the law of implied consent means that you agree to comply with an officer’s request to take either a blood or breath test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Although you can still refuse to take a BAC test, the law of implied consent means that you will face additional consequences as a result of your refusal.

    Roadside Sobriety Tests vs. Blood Alcohol Tests: The Law of Implied Consent
    When you are initially pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the officer will usually request you to submit to a field sobriety test and handheld blood alcohol test (breathalyzer). A second blood or breath test will then be performed at the police station. This blood or breath test that you’ll be asked to take once you’re in custody is mandatory under law.

    The law of implied consent only applies to this second mandatory test administered at the police station, and you have the legal right to refuse to answer any questions or take a field sobriety test should you choose. There are no penalties if you refuse the field sobriety test, but refusing the second mandatory test will see you hit with the charge of DUI refusal and face additional fines and jail time if you’re convicted.

    If you do refuse to take this mandatory blood or breath test, the arresting officer must notify you of the consequences of your refusal and that the refusal can be used as evidence against you in court. You will be required to sign a form acknowledging that you understand the penalties for your refusal, and the officer is required to read the form to you verbatim before you sign. If the form is not read to you or you don’t sign it, your DUI lawyer may be able to make a strong case to have the additional refusal charge dismissed.

    If, after being made aware of the additional consequences, you still refuse to take the BAC test, you will usually face mandatory jail time as a result of your refusal if you end up being convicted of a DUI. If it is your first time refusing a BAC test, you will normally be sentenced to a minimum of 48 hours in jail and automatically have your license suspended. If it is your second DUI refusal or you have been convicted of a previous DUI or reckless driving offense within the past 10 years, the penalty increases to a minimum of 96 mandatory hours of jail time and a two-year license suspension. Anyone who refuses to take a BAC test for a third time will have their license suspended for three years and also be sentenced to a minimum of 10 days in jail.

    It is important to note that these penalties are in addition to the sentence for your DUI conviction. A charge of refusal automatically includes additional fines, jail time and a guaranteed license suspension. For instance, let’s say you are convicted of a first DUI offense and you refuse to take the BAC test. If the judge sentences you to two days in jail, you would actually have to serve four days in jail due to the mandatory 48-hour jail sentence for your refusal.

    Following your conviction, you will also need to have a DMV hearing where they will decide about suspending your license. In this case, your license will automatically be suspended for one year due to your refusal, but there is a chance that the court could add to this and suspend your license for even longer as part of your DUI conviction.

    Some people mistakenly believe that refusing to take a BAC test will help them to get their DUI case dismissed due to lack of a blood alcohol reading. However, the truth is that refusing to take the mandatory test can be used as evidence of your guilt and will usually mean that you end up facing additional consequences. However, if you do refuse the BAC test, a skilled Los Angeles DUI lawyer may still be able to help you prepare a defense that could potentially get these additional penalties dismissed or at least reduced.

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