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Chemical test refusal in suspected DUI arrests

Because one's blood alcohol content is used to determine his or her level of impairment in a suspected incidence of driving under the influence, failure to submit to a blood or breath test comes with automatic penalties in California. However, there are no consequences for refusing a field sobriety test.

Failing to submit to chemical testing leads to different penalties based on whether or not one has a history of the offense. Driving privileges are suspended for one year for an individual's first instance of refusing chemical testing. A second offense carries a two-year license revocation if it occurs within 10 years of the first offense. A third offense within 10 years carries a three-year revocation.

It is important to understand that this administrative penalty is strictly related to one's refusal when a peace officer requests submission to a chemical test. Penalties for a DUI conviction are independent of these.

Chemical testing is typically performed by the collection of a blood sample or by the use of a breath testing device. A urine test may be an option in certain cases. If drug use is suspected in addition to alcohol, a urine test may be used. Also, if blood and breath tests are not available, a urine test is permissible. Additionally, certain medical conditions such as hemophilia or taking anticoagulant drugs for heart issues may necessitate a urine test.

In some DUI cases, defense lawyers uncover evidence that discredit the results of breath and blood tests. For example, improperly calibrated testing equipment or incorrect testing methods could call the results into question and lead charges being dropped.

Source: CDMV, "Arrest for Driving Under the Influence DUI General Information", September 19, 2014

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Fisher Law Office

1322 Morro Street
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