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What Blood Alcohol Tests Are Required in a Los Angeles DUI Stop?

  • September 1, 2017

    Being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence can be a stressful experience, and one that has the potential to dramatically affect your life for years to come should you eventually be convicted of a DUI. For this reason, it is vital that all Los Angeles drivers are fully aware of their legal rights and obligations in a DUI case. This is especially important when it comes to submitting to a blood alcohol test, and for this reason, we’ll now take a look at the requirements for blood alcohol testing.

    Roadside Sobriety Tests and Your Rights
    If you are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer must have probable cause before they can ask you to submit to a blood alcohol test. In fact, the officer first has to have probable cause to pull you over and also probable cause to suspect that you are over the legal blood alcohol level.

    If the officer does have probable cause to suspect that you have been drinking, they can then ask you to submit to a roadside preliminary alcohol screening. For instance, if your breath smells like alcohol, you were pulled over because you were swerving or otherwise driving erratically or your speech is slurred, this qualifies as probable cause and gives the officer the right to ask you to submit to a roadside alcohol screening.

    However, an officer cannot ask you to submit to a test simply because they have a feeling or suspect that you were drinking. Instead, they need to be able to prove that they had a probable reason for their suspicions. Unfortunately, many drivers end up backing themselves into a corner and accidentally providing the officer with probably cause due to their words.

    One of the most common ways that officers establish probable cause is by speaking with the driver and questioning them about whether they’ve had anything to drink. In an effort to seem cooperative, most drivers will honestly answer the officer’s questions and thus provide the officer with probable cause. For this reason, it is recommended that you exercise your 5th amendment right to remain silent, which means politely declining to answer any of the officer’s questions.

    Although California operates under the law of implied consent, it is important to know that you have the right to refuse to answer any questions and also to refuse to submit to a roadside sobriety test without any penalty or punishment. If the officer determines that they have probable cause and arrests you for suspicion of DUI, you can then be required to submit to an alcohol test. However, you cannot be required to take any test prior to actually being arrested.

    Voluntary Pre-Arrest Alcohol Screening
    Under California law, pre-arrest alcohol screening is not required by law, and driver have the right to refuse to take any test the officer requests. All pre-arrest alcohol tests are voluntary, and refusing to take a pre-arrest test does not carry with it any penalties. Unfortunately, all that these pre-arrest tests do is to provide the officer with evidence to support their claim of probable cause. For this reason, most lawyers recommend that you refuse to submit to any tests.

    If the officer does determine that they have probable cause, they can still arrest you on suspicion of DUI even if you refuse to submit to the testing. In this case, you will then be required to undergo a mandatory blood alcohol test at the police station. Under California’s law of implied consent, refusing to submit to this mandatory testing will see you automatically charged with refusal, which means you will be facing additional penalties on top of your DUI conviction.

    Unfortunately, the law is on the officer’s side. If you answer their questions or voluntary submit to pre-arrest alcohol screening, all you are doing is providing them with additional evidence to support their claim of probable cause. Most pre-arrest alcohol tests are fairly subjective, and it is quite easy to fail these tests even if you haven’t been drinking. The problem is that failing these tests will give the prosecution a much stronger case and thus increase the chances that you will be convicted of a DUI offense. Therefore, you are always best to refuse to submit to any tests until you have been arrested, and if you do end up getting arrested for suspicion of a DUI, it is vital that you immediately seek the advice and assistance of a lawyer to give yourself the best possible chance of beating the charge.

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