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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

Rights in regards to DUIs, implied consent and breath tests

Football season is right around the corner, and few things are considered more American than football, burgers and beer. But whether you’re at your friend’s house to watch the game, at a bar, tailgating before the game, or raising your glass following your team’s victory, it is important to know the law when it comes to DUIs and implied consent laws with regards to breath tests.

Driving is considered a privilege not a right, and when you receive your driver’s license, you also are consenting to a blood alcohol content test, often called a BAC, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This test can come in many forms, including a field sobriety test, a blood test, urine test or a breath test, commonly known as a Breathalyzer.

If you are pulled over and suspected of DUI, refusal to take the BAC test essentially surrenders your driving privileges. This is referred to as the implied consent law. Every state in the U.S. has some form of this law, though how it is implemented varies by state.

In addition, every state in the U.S. has severe penalties for a DUI conviction. In California, the penalties and fines range from a four-month suspension of your license, fines, mandatory alcohol education and treatment and the possibility of the installation of an ignition interlock device. The penalties become even more severe for subsequent offenses, including a license revocation for two to three years, and even more for subsequent offenses.

No-refusal policies becoming more prevalent in DUI testing

Drivers have a difficult choice to make when they are asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test after being pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. If the driver elects to take the test and has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, it is likely that he will be charged with a DUI. However, all states have implemented implied consent laws to penalize those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked to do so. Therefore, if a driver refuses to submit to a breath test, he will be subjected to an automatic suspension of his driver’s license.

Despite these consequences, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that many people who do not submit to tests end up avoiding harsh penalties. The study also revealed that implied consent laws don’t have a major impact on reducing breath test refusals.

Because of these breath test refusals, more and more law enforcement officials are enacting “no-refusal” policies with regards to DUI testing. With these policies, officers in many jurisdictions may attempt to get a warrant to secure a blood draw or a breath test from the driver. Obtaining a paper warrant would take a few hours, giving the driver time to sober up before taking the test. Nowadays, officers can have an electronic warrant sent to their phones to avoid this time delay.

A driver who refuses a court-ordered blood alcohol test via warrant may be facing contempt charges that are more serious than just a license suspension. Drivers can still refuse a BAC test with a no-refusal policy in place, but they cannot legally refuse a search warrant for such a test. These serious consequences make it less likely for a driver to refuse a test.

No-refusal policies are not supported by everyone. Drivers are protected under law against unreasonable search and seizure. The American Civil Liberties Union finds that these no-refusal policies violate these rights. For blood draws in particular, medical privacy becomes an issue as well. However, as of right now, a majority of states have a legal authority to implement no-refusal initiatives. This is something to be aware of if you are ever pulled over for a possible DUI.

Navigating the choice of refusing a breath test

When a driver is first pulled over a DUI, his or her first instinct may be to do whatever the officer says, including submitting to a breath test. Under California implied consent law, drivers are required to submit to a test when an officer demands it. However, drivers can still refuse a breath test.

Breath tests are used on drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence. If a driver submits to a breath test, he will blow into a device that measures his blood alcohol content. If the result is above the legal limit, those results can be used to help convict him. Once convicted, the driver could face serious consequences including over $5,000 in penalties, an increase in car insurance rates, license suspension and even jail time. In most cases a DUI charge is a misdemeanor, but it can be upgraded to a felony if someone was injured or killed in the accident. Felony charges lead to even more fines and longer prison sentences.

Refusing a breathalyzer will lead to the automatic suspension of your license. However, it may be the best thing for you to do in your situation. If you decide to submit to the test, there are still ways to protect yourself. Navigating the court process can be hard, especially when you are scared for your future. Fortunately, Dale Gribow Attorney at Law has years of experience helping people fight their DUI arrests and negotiating reduced charges.

Facing any kind of drunk driving charge can be an extremely stressful situation to navigate. To find out more information about defending against DUI charges, please visit our website.

How do implied consent laws impact breath test refusal?

When drivers are pulled over for a DUI, they are often asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Law enforcement officials use breath tests and other tests to help determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol. However, more than 20 percent of U.S. drivers suspected of a DUI refuse to take a blood alcohol test. While refusing a breathalyzer test may seem like the right thing to do when pulled-over, it also comes with consequences.

In any state, when you get your driver’s license, implied consent laws go into effect. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety or chemical test. Implied consent laws mean that you consent to these tests to determine your level of impairment.

California drivers risk license suspension for one year if they refuse to submit to these tests. The driver may receive a citation for the refusal, but a driver who consents to a blood test after the initial breathalyzer refusal, may be exempted from a refusal charge. However, if the driver has a history of DUI convictions, a refusal may mean an even longer license suspension or, in some cases, jail time.

License suspension may not be your only penalty for a breath test refusal. Some car insurance companies will cancel your policy as a result of the refusal-related license suspension. Refusing a breath test and later being found guilty of the DUI could be more serious. Seeking the opinion of a DUI defense attorney may be beneficial in determining the best course of action for your particular situation.

Refusal to take a breath test after a DUI arrest in California

One of the most common questions that arises when discussing DUI charges is what happens if the driver refuses to submit to a Breathalyzer test when he is pulled over. A Breathalyzer test is one way for the arresting officer to determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol.

If you take the test and the breath test device shows that your blood alcohol content is above .08 percent, you will be found to be legally impaired and will have your license immediately suspended. For first-time offenders, you will lose your license for four months. If you commit another offense within 10 years, your license will be suspended for one year. Drivers under the age of 21 who have a .01 percent BAC or higher will lose their driving privileges for one year, if it is their first DUI offense.

Under implied consent laws, you must submit to a chemical test in order to measure your blood alcohol content if a law enforcement officer requests that you do so. If you fail to submit to the test after being asked to do so by an officer, you will lose your license for one year, if you are a first-time offender. A second offense within 10 years will result in a revocation of your license for two years. A third offense within 10 years means that your license will be revoked for three years. For drivers under the age of 21, refusing a breath test means a one year license suspension for first-time offenders. Second and third offenses within 10 years will mean license revocation, the same consequence as it is for drivers over 21.

Driving under the influence can lead to serious consequences and can result in the suspension of your driver’s license, whether you choose to submit to a breath test or not.

What happens if you refuse a Breathalyzer test?

Drunk driving arrests and convictions have become all too common in Palm Desert. In fact, all across the country, many drivers are being pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If a law enforcement officer pulls you over and suspects that you are intoxicated, they may ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. A Breathalyzer test will determine your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. If a driver has a BAC level at or above .08, they are considered intoxicated according to the law and could be convicted of a DUI.

Breathalyzer results are given a great deal of weight in court, which leaves many drivers wondering whether they should submit to the Breathalyzer test. Refusing a test is an option, but there are consequences. All states have implied consent laws in place, meaning that drivers implicitly consent to a BAC test when they get their licenses. This means that if you don’t submit to a BAC test when asked, the state has the right to suspend or revoke your license for up to 12 months. You may even be required to pay heavy fines and face jail time.

Despite these consequences, approximately 20 percent of those accused of a DUI refuse to take a BAC test. Some of these drivers have been convicted of multiple DUIs in the past. These drivers find that the penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer test are less severe than the consequences they would face if they were convicted of yet another DUI. While there are some circumstances where a breath test refusal may be the right decision, you should be well aware of the consequences before making a decision.

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73-061 El Paseo, Suite 220