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What happens if you refuse the Breathalyzer test in California?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2022 | Drunk Driving Charges |

If law enforcement officers have reason to believe that you are drunk driving, they will pull you over for an investigation. Generally, this will include asking you to step out of the vehicle so you can take the field sobriety tests.

Alongside the field sobriety tests, law enforcement may also ask you to take a Breathalyzer test. This test is meant to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. But should you yield to this demand?

California is an implied consent law

You may decline the field sobriety test. However, this is never a brilliant idea. This is because California, just like all the other states apply a statute known as the “Implied Consent” law. Basically, this means that by signing up for a driver’s license in California, you automatically agree to submit to chemical testing at the request of law enforcement during a drunken driving investigation. Refusal to yield to the blood alcohol test can lead to additional charges. Besides, refusal to take the test may not exonerate you from the DUI charges if the police believe you were indeed driving under influence.

Possible penalties if you refuse the Breathalyzer test

Refusing to yield to a Breathalyzer test comes with certain legal consequences. Under California law, a refusal to take the Breathalyzer test will automatically lead to the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. If you are convicted of DUI after refusing the test, you will pay a mandatory fine and serve jail time alongside the DUI penalties.

If your refusal happens within 10 years from the previous DUI conviction, then your driver’s license will be suspended for up to two years. However, if your refusal happens within 10 years of two or more DUI convictions, then your driver’s license will be withdrawn for up to three years. Do keep in mind that you will also serve jail time for the refusal.

The decision to accept or decline the Breathalyzer test is entirely up to you. Find out how you can defend yourself and protect your rights if you have been charged with drunk drinking in California.