What Happens When You Refuse a Chemical Test?

  • May 26, 2017

    Refusing a chemical test isn’t an option if a Los Angeles police officer suspects you of driving under the influence. Additional jail time and stiffer license sanctions are just some of the consequences that follow if you say no. However, the reason may not be as clear-cut as it looks. An experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney can determine why you refused, and whether the circumstances may justify a lesser penalty.


    Criminal Penalties

    California law requires a blood or breath test for all drivers arrested for DUI offenses. A urine test may also be required if the officers suspects you’re driving under influence of drugs. Officers can also forcibly administer a blood test to gather alcohol or drug evidence that they suspect will disappear once the body processes them.

    A first-time refusal means a 48-hour jail stay, and 96 hours for a second offense. If you’re caught for a third time, and refuse the test, count on spending 10 days in jail, plus the additional time imposed for the original DUI offense.

    DMV Penalties

    Refusing a chemical test results in a one-year license suspension, with no restricted license from the Department of Motor Vehicles. For multiple convictions, your license is suspended for a year on the current case, which follows any additional suspension time the court may impose.

    DUI Defense Options

    A savvy Los Angeles DUI Attorney starts by challenging the admissibility of the test itself. For example, he might be able to show that you were experiencing a rising blood blood alcohol level, which could affect the validity of the result.

    If that situation didn’t occur, your attorney will review the officer’s report to see whether his conduct in administering the test, or delay in giving it, caused you to say no. He may challenge whether the breathalyzer equipment worked properly that night, or review the police report for procedural errors that affected the officer’s actions.

    For example, if the report shows that you were unconscious, your inability to respond can’t legally count against you as a refusal in court. Your attorney might then move to suppress the results, or have the court throw them out entirely.

    What Happens Next?

    The best finding is a ruling that deems the traffic stop unlawful, and a suppression of the evidence that officers gathered from it. Rather than proceed with an error-riddled case, the prosecutor may dismiss it, which means you don’t go to jail.

    However, lesser penalties are still possible, even if the judge rules against you. The prosecutor may allow you to plead to dry or wet reckless charge. A wet reckless charge means you admit alcohol affected your driving, but doesn’t rise to a DUI level. A dry reckless charge means you accept responsibility for poor driving, without the alcohol allegations. Also, unlike a wet reckless conviction, it doesn’t qualify for an enhanced sentence.

    Both charges carry lesser fines and jail terms, which allows you to avoid the stigma of a criminal record that follows a DUI offense. Alternatively, the prosecutor may let you plead guilty to “exhibition of speed” or public drunkenness violations, which helps further reduce your risk of conviction on a DUI charge.

    As you can see, anything is possible, even if you refuse a test. A skilled Los Angeles DUI Attorney can capitalize on his knowledge of the system and relationships with law enforcement to secure a result that protects your rights, yet doesn’t stigmatize you publicly. Don’t walk into court without one.

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