When you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, you will be ordered by the police officer to comply with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) test. If you fail to comply with this test, it is called a DUI refusal, you will more than likely face legal penalties such as a suspension of your driver’s license.
However, there might be a way for you to beat the DUI refusal charges. If there is any chance that you might be able to beat the charges, you should take full advantage. To have the best chance of beating the charges as possible, you need the help of a skilled and professional Los Angeles DUI attorney.
BAC Testing Is Mandatory in California
Any time you are arrested for a DUI in California, you will be obligated to take a BAC test, typically by blowing into a device that measures BAC, or a “breathalyzer.” This is because, in California, there is an “implied consent” law, which means that you are deemed to have agreed to complete a BAC test by driving on California’s roads. Because of this law, if you refuse to take the DUI test, you can be punished civilly by the automatic revocation of your driver’s license.
This only applies after arrest, however. If you are over the age of 21 and not on DUI probation, you do not have to consent to any sort of alcohol test prior to being arrested. After arrest, however, if you refuse the DUI test, your driver’s license will be revoked.
It is important to remember that this is a civil penalty. You cannot be punished criminally, such as with jail time, for refusing to take a BAC test, because that would infringe on your right against self-incrimination. If you want to avoid the civil penalties too, you will need the help of a Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
Penalties for DUI Refusal
Knowing that only civil penalties can be imposed for DUI refusal, it is still important to know what those possible penalties are. If you refuse a DUI test after arrest, your driver’s license will be suspended automatically in most cases. The length of this suspension will be determined by how many times you have done similar actions in the past:
- For your first refusal, your license will be suspended for one year.
- For your second refusal, your license will be suspended for two years.
- For your third and any further refusals, your license will be suspended for three years.
- If you refuse more than three times, it is also possible for your driver’s license to be revoked permanently.
Also, while there are no criminal penalties for the refusal itself, it is possible that the lack of DUI evidence will end up harming you at trial because a jury might consider your refusal to take a DUI test suspicious unless you have a good reason. A skilled DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can help you justify any refusal to the judge or jury.
How You Can Beat a DUI Refusal in California
While it is not easy, there are a few ways that your DUI attorney in Los Angeles can help you beat your DUI refusal. Before you go to court, your lawyer will review all of the evidence in your file to see if there is anything that you can argue to defeat your DUI refusal.
Illegal or Unconstitutional Arrest or Traffic Stop
Your DUI refusal is not valid unless it is connected to a valid arrest for DUI. And an arrest for DUI is only valid if the traffic stop that led to the arrest was valid. A traffic stop is not valid unless the police officer had reasonable suspicion to think that you were committing a crime. To show reasonable suspicion, the officer must be able to articulate specific facts that gave rise to his suspicion; just a hunch is not enough.
For an arrest to be valid, the police officer must have probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. This is typically accomplished by seeing you drive erratically, smelling alcohol from your breath, or witnessing you slurring your words or generally acting drunk. If the police do not have probable cause to arrest you, your arrest is invalid and so is your DUI refusal.
The Police Did Not Give You Enough Information
California state law requires that the police tell you what will happen to you if you refuse the DUI test. This means that they must inform you of the civil penalties, such as the automatic revocation of your driver’s license. If the police do not tell you about these penalties before you refuse the DUI test, your DUI refusal might be invalid.
You also have the right to choose the form of the DUI test, either a blood draw or a urine sample. If the police did not tell you about this choice, your DUI refusal might also be invalid.
You Were Unable to Do the DUI Test/You Had a Religious Objection
If you were physically not able to perform the DUI test, the DUI refusal might be void. This can be true if you have a medical condition or are severely injured. Even if you are injured in an accident that makes the police suspect you of a DUI, they cannot take your medical information from the hospital without a search warrant, even if it shows that you were drunk.
Some people are also religiously opposed to blood tests. While this argument is a long shot, you do have a constitutional right to the free exercise of your religion, which means that you might have an acceptable reason for refusing a DUI test if the methods that the police offer you are not acceptable. This might occur if the police do not inform you of all of your options.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney
If you are in hot water because of a DUI refusal, you need the assistance of a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles that can stand up for your interests and rights in court. Contact a Los Angeles DUI attorney today for a free case evaluation.