The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer in California

It's a Saturday night, you're driving home, and all of a sudden there are red lights flashing in your rear-view mirror. Maybe you've been drinking and maybe you haven't, but what happens if you refuse a Breathalyzer test?

For those living in Los Angeles and Southern California, or really anywhere in the Golden State, refusal is probably not a good choice.

You have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer, but that doesn't mean there are no consequences. In California, the penalties can be pretty significant.

Testing for drugs or alcohol is technically a search. Because it impacts your body, police can't force you to submit without a warrant. But California law makes it hard to say no.

The reason you probably want to take your chances with the Breathalyzer is because refusal means an automatic citation on your license. Depending on the circumstances and your past record, your license may also be suspended.

As a condition of receiving a California driver's license, the state presumes that all drivers have consented to an alcohol breath or blood test if they're arrested for an alleged DUI. If you refuse a breath test, you may be asked to take a blood test; if you refuse both, you'll likely face consequences.

The only way to withhold your consent is to not get a driver's license. Even out-of-state drivers must abide by the law of the state where they're driving, although you may get your license back sooner as an out-of-state driver, depending on your home state's laws.

If officers do take your license, that also means you can't get in your car and drive away. All the more reason not to refuse the Breathalyzer.

But what if you've been drinking and don't want a DUI on your record? Then you really should have stayed home, because refusing a Breathalyzer won't help your case.

If you refuse, you'll likely annoy the cop and get a ticket. Then the officer can get a warrant for a blood test and willl still be able to find out your blood alcohol content.

Refusing a Breathalyzer may seem like a good way to avoid legal trouble. But a better choice is probably to take the test and find a good Los Angeles DUI lawyer who may be able to challenge the breath-test's results. You'll hopefully keep your license and maybe get a better outcome at trial too.

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