Do I Have to Submit to a Chemical Test if I'm Sober?

Let’s say you were reading directions on your smartphone and you swerved into another lane. Or, perhaps your teething baby kept you up at all hours of the night and you fell asleep at the wheel for two seconds, causing you to veer into the wrong lane, and suddenly the officer trailing behind you has probable cause to initiate a traffic stop.

Now, he’s asking you if you had anything to drink. You say, “No” but your red eyes (from allergies or contacts) are telling him otherwise, that maybe you had some booze. He asks you to perform the field sobriety tests, and you don’t do so well on them. It’s not like they’re easy.

Unconvinced, he wants you to submit to a chemical test. Do you have to take this test?

California’s ‘Implied Consent’ Law

Under California’s implied consent law, when you accept your driver’s license, you agree to submit to a chemical test in the form of a blood, breath, or urine test to test your blood for the presence of alcohol or drugs if you are arrested for DUI.

DUI suspects are asked to take this test at the time of their arrest and they are usually given the choice between a breath test or a blood test. If neither of those tests are available, the suspect has to take the urine test.

The law does provide an exception for people who are on anticoagulants for a heart condition, and for hemophiliacs; these individuals are not required to take the blood test.

As a part of California’s implied consent law, you are consenting to a preliminary breath test (PAS), even if the officer has not arrested you for DUI. It’s similar to a field sobriety test.

The results of the PAS tests are used to establish probable cause to make a DUI arrest. You do NOT have to take the PAS, and the officer should tell you this. However, if you refuse it, the officer can still arrest you for another reason. In that case, you’d still be required to a chemical test under the law as we explained above.

What if I wasn’t drinking?

Even if you have not been drinking, you can still be arrested if the officer thinks he has enough proof. In that case, the officer should inform you that refusing to take the test will result in fines and the automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

You can read more about California’s implied consent law here.

Arrested for DUI in Orange County? Whether or not you were drinking, you need a strong defense – call the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free consultation!

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