Can I Refuse to Take a Blood Test After Being Arrested for DUI?

If you are arrested for DUI in California, refusing a chemical test can have serious consequences on your driving privilege. California has an implied consent law, which requires that anyone who obtains a driver’s license in the state must consent to a blood alcohol test if arrested for DUI.  If you refuse the test your driver’s license will be suspended, and you may be subject to enhanced penalties above the standard sentence for DUI if convicted in criminal court.  The Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from forcibly taking a suspect’s blood without his consent.  In order to obtain a suspect’s blood sample without consent, the police must generally obtain a warrant.

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Reasonable Suspicion from Police

Police must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over for DUI.  If a police officer observes a driver weaving in and out of traffic, driving too slowly, or otherwise behaving erratically, there will likely be reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop.

After stopping a suspect, officers frequently will try to illicit voluntary statements from a suspect in order to substantiate DUI charges.  The officer may ask, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” or “How much have you had to drink?”  You do not have to answer these questions.  However, if you do answer, your responses may give the officer evidence he needs to place you under arrest for DUI.

The officer may also ask you to submit to a field sobriety test or a preliminary alcohol-screening test, such as a Breathalyzer test.  Submission to these tests is voluntary.  Again, if you choose to submit to these tests, the results can provide the police with additional evidence that can be used in court to prove the charges against you. It is important to recognize that you cannot be penalized in any way for refusing to submit to any of these on-the-scene tests, including the Breathalyzer test. It is not until you are placed under arrest and brought back to the station that you will be asked to submit to a blood or breath test.  Refusing the blood alcohol testing at this point will result in the consequences discussed above under the implied consent law.

You can choose to accept the consequences of violating the implied consent law, but you should understand that refusing the blood alcohol test might not prevent the prosecutor from acquiring the proof necessary to convict you of DUI.  Even if you were extremely careful not to provide the police with additional evidence by making statements on the scene or submitting to Breathalyzer or blood alcohol tests, you can still be convicted.  The police officer that pulled you over will testify to what he observed.  The evidence against you might include the officer’s testimony that your driving was consistent with DUI and that your breath smelled of alcohol.  Even without additional evidence, the fact-finder may find that the evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction.

Seek Legal Help Today

As a former prosecutor, Diana Weiss Aizman of the Aizman Law Firm has extensive experience and unique insight into the defense of DUI charges.  Contact the Aizman Law Firm right away if you have been charged with DUI.

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