The law against drinking and driving is a hard and fast rule. But the rules are a little less clear when it comes to DUI testing. Police officers administer various types of drug tests across the country’s roads on a regular basis, but do these people know their rights when asked to comply?
Federal laws are quite specific about both the legal driving limit, as well as taking DUI tests. Yet while many people may be familiar with the former, they are not so informed of the latter – leading to some very tricky situations.
Knowing your rights regarding taking a DUI test can save from both a very embarrassing and reputation-tainting situation.
What Are The Laws Around Drinking & Driving?
It’s not legal to drink and drive in any country, but the specific rules differ slightly for each state in America. Here are some key facts to know about the legal limits on the roads, specifically in California
- Motorists under the age of 21 are not allowed to have a BAC of more than 0.02%
- The legal driving limit in California means that drivers older than 21 are not allowed to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% (or more)
- A first offense can result in six months in jail, suspension of a driver’s license for six months, and a fine
- A second offense can result in up to one year in jail, a two-year license suspension, and a fine
- A third offense can result in up to one year in jail, a three-year license suspension, and a larger fine
What Is DUI Testing?
If a police officer suspects that a driver has been drinking, then they may pull the vehicle over for a breathalyzer test.
Sometimes, these DUI stops are set up at certain times, in certain hotspot areas.
There are different forms of tests for BAC, but the most common in the field are performing certain physical actions and taking a breathalyzer. Unfortunately, these physical tests can be failed if a person is nervous, and the reliability of breathalyzers is less than guaranteed.
So, to protect yourself from a tricky situation, can you refuse a DUI test?
What Are Your Rights?
The police are only allowed to request a breath test if they have reasonable cause that you were driving under the influence of alcohol and if the test is incidental to a lawful arrest.
The United States has a set of implied consent laws that dictate anyone who has accepted the privilege of driving in the state agrees to submit to lawful requests to test the BAC (via urine or breath testing).
The consequences for refusing a breathalyzer vary by state, but most in most states, this refusal can come at the risk of suspending your driver’s license.
But there’s a catch.
The consequence of not taking the test is only the case if you have been arrested and/or have been read the implied consent notice. The best way to protect yourself from being in a difficult legal situation is to politely refuse to take a test, thereby not giving the police any evidence that they may use against you.
What If You Refuse?
If you do refuse, you should do so knowing that your refusal may make you look guilty. Your refusal can also extend the amount of time that your license is suspended if you are tested and your result shows you to be over the limit.
Refusing to take a DUI test gives the police officer permission to have your license suspended. The duration of this suspension can be variable depending on your track history with regards to DUI testing and convictions.
Another essential point to remember is that it is the police’s response to caution you of the risk of suspending your license, as well as informing you of the consequences that may follow in court.
In California, particularly, refusing to take a breathalyzer may result in a citation for refusing a chemical BAC test. However, if the driver agrees to a blood draw after their initial refusal, then they are exempt from the refusal charge.
Got Yourself In A Difficult Position?
The best thing to do in a situation where the police want to give you a DUI test is to call a lawyer who is familiar with these specific legalities.
Refusing to take a DUI test may infer guilt – especially to an uneducated jury – however, an experienced forensic toxicologist can be an expert witness and explain otherwise.
If you’re in need of expert legal counsel, you can contact us to find out how we can help.