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Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

If you arrive at a DUI checkpoint or you have been stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, a police officer will typically request that you submit to a portable breath test (PAS test). These breathalyzer tests determine the blood alcohol concentration level of alcohol in your system. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the State of California for those over 21 years of age is 0.08%. Learning what your rights are before you refuse a breathalyzer test can help you make the best decision if you are ever faced with the decision.

Breath Tests

In California, a police officer has two opportunities to request that a driver submit to a PAS test for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

  • Before Arrest. Before an arrest and during a lawful traffic stop, a police officer may request that you submit to a breathalyzer test or PAS test. You have every right to refuse this test and there should be no consequences related to your refusal to take this test.
  • After Arrest. If a police officer makes the determination that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol and arrests you, you will be taken to a police station for processing. At this point, you will be asked again to submit to a PAS test. At this point, it is required by law for you to take this test and if you refuse, there will be consequences.

Refusing to Take the Breathalyzer Test After Being Arrested

If you refuse to take a PAS test after being arrested, you will face additional, harsher penalties along with any DUI penalties. Some of the extra consequences can include increased jail time or a longer driver’s license suspension period. The exact penalties depend on if the offense is your first DUI or a subsequent DUI offense. The penalties are as follows:

  • First DUI in 10 years: 48 extra hours of jail; one-year license suspension; extra six months of DUI School
  • Second DUI: 96 extra hours of jail; two-year license revocation
  • Third DUI: 10 extra days in jail; three-year license revocation
  • Fourth (or subsequent) DUI: 18 extra days in jail; three-year license revocation

First time DUI offenses carry strict penalties, and first-time offenders are often unaware that they do not have the right to refuse the breathalyzer test after an arrest. If you agree to submit to a PAS test, you can expect to only face a few months of license suspension and three months of DUI school, and no jail time with some probation. However, if you refuse a test after an arrest, you may be looking at two days in jail, a full year of license suspension, and nine months of DUI school.

Contact a DUI Lawyer Today

California has strict and harsh penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. These penalties are much harsher if you refuse a PAS test after arrest. For information about your legal rights and assistance in fighting a DUI charge, contact our experienced DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann at 714-477-7818 or online today.

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