Whether you’re in Stanton or elsewhere in the greater Los Angeles area, you may benefit from understanding California’s breathalyzer laws. It is an additional criminal offense to refuse to take an alcohol screening test if you’ve been arrested under suspicion of DUI. Your refusal, in addition to a DUI conviction, can result in increased penalties, such as a longer suspension of your driver’s license and increased jail time.
Under California law, you do not have the right to consult with an attorney before you decide to accept or refuse a breathalyzer test. However, a skilled DUI lawyer can help you if you’re facing charges resulting from a DUI arrest or refusing to submit to an alcohol screening test. You can reach out to an experienced Stanton DUI attorney by calling us today at (310) 896-2724 or filling out the form on this page. Better yet, your initial consultation is completely free of charge.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test When You get Stopped
If you encounter a DUI checkpoint or if you are pulled over while driving in Stanton, a police officer may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. You may also be asked if you would consent to a blood or urine test. These are all known as “preliminary alcohol screening (PAS).”
If you have not been lawfully arrested, the State of California does allow individuals to refuse to take a PAS. Your refusal at this point in the process may not result in any criminal charges. However, it is also not a guarantee that you have avoided being arrested for a DUI offense.
There are two general exceptions to this right of refusal when stopped:
- If you are on DUI probation, you may not refuse to take a PAS
- If you are currently 21 years old or younger, you may not refuse a PAS if you’ve been stopped under suspicion of underage DUI
Even if you don’t fall under these exceptions, you may not be in the clear just because you refuse a PAS. While a breathalyzer is a powerful tool for the police, they only need to have probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. In fact, a prosecutor may try to use your refusal as evidence that you understood that your behavior was criminal.
Refusing an Alcohol Screening After an Arrest
Your ability to refuse an alcohol screening without additional penalties evaporates once you’ve been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence. This is because California follows a doctrine of implied consent in DUI cases. While other searches generally require a warrant, California law requires drivers to waive this right when the state bestows your driver’s license.
Penalties for Refusing a Required Screening
The penalty for refusing a breathalyzer test in California will depend on your prior history with DUI convictions. California takes repeat offenses seriously and penalizes a history of refusals with escalating punishments. These penalties for refusing include:
- Two days of extra jail time and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license for the first offense in the past 10 years
- Four additional days in jail, along with a two-year suspension for a second offense
- A three-year suspension, in addition to ten more days, added on to your jail sentence for your third refusal
- From your fourth refusal onwards, you face 18 more days in jail on top of a three-year license suspension
It is worth emphasizing that these penalties are in addition to any punishment you may have from a DUI conviction. If you consent to a breathalyzer test for your first DUI offense, you could avoid jail entirely. However, a refusal coupled with a DUI conviction could result in additional time in DUI school, a full year without a license instead of a few months, and jail time that could have been avoided.
Knowing the Law Matters
Since you can’t consult with a lawyer while you’re stopped or after you’ve been arrested, it’s important to know what penalties you may face if you refuse a breathalyzer. One wrong decision here and you could face extra jail time. But knowing the law may also help you too.
While refusing a breathalyzer after you’ve been arrested is a crime in California, you don’t forfeit your rights. Officers in Stanton are required by law to inform you that you face a penalty if you don’t consent to an alcohol screening. If the officer fails to provide you with that warning, a skilled DUI attorney may be able to have the charge removed.
Reach Out to a Stanton DUI Lawyer Today
A DUI charge can be difficult to face, but it can be much worse if you’re also facing a charge for refusing an alcohol screening. It is a crime to refuse a breathalyzer in California, in part, because it can be a necessary piece of evidence for a DUI conviction. An experienced Stanton DUI lawyer can evaluate your case and make sure that you receive the best defense possible.
If you’d like to learn more about your legal options, call us at (310) 896-2724, or use the form on this page. We will connect you with a lawyer that has the expertise you need for your unique situation. You can discuss your case with one of our attorneys without any upfront fees. This is a risk-free offer, so don’t hesitate to find out how a skilled DUI attorney can help you.