The Implied Consent Laws in California

If an officer is suspicious that a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he/she may pull the driver over to perform a number of tests. In most cases, the officer will ask the suspect to perform standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) which may include the following.

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
  • The Walk and Turn (WAT)
  • The One-Stand (OLS)

Following these SFSTs, the officer may ask the suspect to consent to a chemical test which may include a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test.

The implied consent law, California Vehicle Code Section 23612, states that when a driver applies for a driver’s license, that person gives their consent to field sobriety and chemical tests to determine whether he/she is operating a vehicle while impaired. While a person is allowed to refuse SFSTs and chemical tests, the technicalities of the laws state that drivers give their “implied consent” when operating motor vehicles in the state of California.

If pulled over, the officer must tell you that you have a right to refuse the test but that it may result in a fine, a suspended license, and that you may be sent to jail if you are convicted for a DUI later. In addition, the officer must tell you that you have the right to retain an attorney and that if you refuse the test, it may be used against you in court.

The Consequences of Refusing to Take a Chemical Test

In California, a refusal to take a breathalyzer or chemical test can result in a number of penalties. Upon refusal, an officer can take the driver’s license. If convicted, the DMV will suspend that license and apply other penalties.

First Offense

Up to one-year suspension of driver’s license

Second Offense

Up to two-year suspension of driver’s license

Third Offense

Up to three-year suspension of driver’s license

Additionally, a driver will face a fine of $125 for refusing a chemical test. These penalties may be found in California Vehicle Code Section 13353 and 14905.

Many people assume that refusing a DUI will save them from the harsh penalties of a DUI conviction since the prosecution will not be able to prove that his/her blood alcohol concentration was over the legal limit of 0.08%. However, refusing to take a test does not guarantee that you will not be convicted of a DUI. In fact, the prosecution may use your refusal to prove that you are guilty but stating that you refused the test because you knew you were intoxicated during the time of arrest.

You Will Need to Retain an Experience DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for a DUI and refused your chemical test, it is important to contact a Ventura DUI defense lawyer immediately. Although the prosecution may not have the result of a test in order to prove you were driving while impaired, you may face severe penalties that can damage your criminal record. Ventura County is tough on DUI offenders and will push to see that full penalties are applied. A knowledgeable Ventura DUI defense attorney at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can explore your case and help protect your future.

The Ventura criminal defense lawyers from Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP work hard to protect the rights of our clients. Call our firm today!