In California, and in other states throughout the country, the “implied consent” law requires all state drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to chemical testing to determine BAC or the amount of drugs in the person’s system. For an arrest to be considered lawful, the officer who stops you needs to have “probable cause” to believe you’ve been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Consequences for refusing to submit a chemical test after an arrest are harsh. The penalties for refusal—also known as “refusal enhancement penalties”—will be added on top of standard DUI penalties.
Refusal enhancement may include the following:
- First-time DUI offense – Driver’s license suspension for one year and a fine of $125
- Second-time DUI offense – Driver’s license suspension for two years and a fine of $125
- Third-time DUI offense – Driver’s license suspension for three years and a fine of $125
It is imperative to understand that implied consent laws only apply to chemical testing after the DUI arrest. This means that an individual can refuse to take a “preliminary alcohol screening” (PAS) test or a handled breath test device (typically called a “breathalyzer”). An officer might ask you to take voluntary PAS test to establish probable cause to make an arrest. However, only drivers who are under 21 years of age or currently on DUI probation are required to take a pre-arrest PAS test.
Although refusal would mean a lack of recorded evidence of your BAC level, it may not help you avoid a DUI conviction. Even without the BAC test results, you can still be found guilty. The prosecutor could argue to a jury that the reason you refused to test because you knew you were intoxicated.