Implied Consent Laws in California


In the state of California, it is implied that the license holder has given their consent to a breath test to measure their blood alcohol content upon being arrested for a DUI. It is important to understand that implied consent laws only apply to chemical testing required following a DUI arrest.

How Chemical Tests Differ from Field Sobriety Tests

Once you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, an officer will ask you to submit a Field Sobriety Test (FST). If an officer administers an FST, he or she has likely already made up their mind to arrest you and is simply compiling more evidence. FSTs can look like heel-toe-walk, one leg, fingers-to-nose, and/or alphabet recitation.

Officers will also ask you to submit a chemical test in order to determine your blood alcohol content. Two tests are commonly used: the blood sample method and the breathalyzer method.  A person can in fact refuse to take FSTs and a roadside breath test if an arrest has not been made. However, if arrested, implied consent laws require a chemical test submission.

Consequences for Refusing to Submit Chemical Tests After a DUI Arrest

The consequences for refusing to submit a chemical test after an arrest is made are severe in California. The penalties for refusal, referred to as ‘refusal enhancement penalties’, will be levied on top of standard DUI penalties. Refusal enhancement penalties can include:

  • First-time DUI offense: Driver’s license suspension for 1 year with possible jail time up to 48 hours, and 9 months of alcohol education courses
  • Second-time DUI offense: Driver’s license suspension for 3 years with possible jail time up to 96 hours
  • Third-time DUI offense: Driver’s license suspension for 3 years with possible jail time up to 10 days.

Failure to submit to a chemical test can result in charges for both the DUI offense as well as the refusal. The fact of your refusal can be introduced as evidence at a trial that you had a guilty conscience. Disputes involving implied consent can be complicated. By their nature, they require an analysis of the person’s actions to determine whether the person actually consented.

In a criminal law context, if you refused a chemical test after a DUI arrest, you should contact a DUI lawyer so they can explain what course of action should be taken next. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor will vigorously represent you in a court of law should you find yourself in this position.

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