When residents are stopped by authorities in California on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), law enforcement officers normally ask the driver submit to a series of field sobriety tests. The tests are used to determine if alcohol or drugs are present in the driver’s bodily system, and, if so, how much. It is a customary practice for a police officer to administer a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, which is a hand held device, known as a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer is used at the scene to measures a person’s blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) level.
If you were recently arrested and submitted to taking a breath test that returned with a result above or even below the legal limit, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer in the area. In California, as in most U.S. jurisdictions, a person who is of legal drinking age will not necessarily escape conviction because their B.A.C. level was below the legal limit, which in this state is 0.08 percent. The legal limit for persons under the age of 21 is substantially lower and is currently set at 0.01 percent in California. Because of the complexities in these cases, you should not try to fight a DUI charge alone. It is incumbent to hire an attorney who is well versed in DUI law practice and procedures and knows that there are scientific ways to prove that these types of tests are unreliable.
What are the California Breathalyzer laws?
The law requires that a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop you for drunk driving. There are many factors the courts will use to determine whether or not the arresting officer had a reasonable basis to stop you. Often the basis will be rooted in suspicious or erratic driving. For example, some of the most common arguments that may support an officer’s claim of reasonable belief to stop you include continuously driving with your turn signal on without ever turning, weaving back and forth in your lane of travel, and similar issues.
In general, upon a reasonable belief of drunk driving, a police officer will start a DUI investigation that consists of detaining the person suspected of driving while intoxicated. The purpose of this investigation is to gather probable cause to arrest a suspected drunk driver. As part of this investigation, the law enforcement officer will request that a driver submit to chemical testing, such as a breathalyzer test, in order to measure the B.A.C. level. In California, a driver can choose to have either a breath or blood test, but the breath test is the most common DUI test which is administered.
It is important for California residents to realize that the state has an implied consent law that is applicable in DUI cases. Implied consent means that a person is considered to have given their consent to a chemical test, breath or blood, in the event an officer pulls them over for reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, for the purpose of measuring their B.A.C. level. If you refuse to submit to this testing, there may be harsh penalties.
Also, if the test results are higher than the 0.08 percent level, the law presumes that you are drunk so the state will proceed to charge you with DUI. However, with an experienced DUI attorney, a thorough investigation into the facts of your case can uncover problems and issues with the state’s case against you, including complications with breathalyzer evidence. This evidence is often the different between a guilty and not guilty verdict.
What are the penalties if I refused to submit to a B.A.C test?
Under California law, if you refuse to submit to either a breath or blood test, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend your driver’s license for a specific period of time. The amount of time you will lose your driving privileges will depend upon factors such as your age or prior drunk driving convictions. Also, if you refuse to take a chemical test, evidence of your refusal could be introduced in court as a tactic to prove that you possessed consciousness of guilt and were drunk at the time you drove your vehicle.
Under extreme circumstances, a police officer can force you to submit to a blood test. A blood test in California is the only chemical test that can be forced against a person’s will. However, there are certain conditions which must be met prior to an officer forcefully administering a blood test. A consultation with our attorney can advise you of all your legal rights in the event you refused to take a breathalyzer or you were compelled to submit to a blood test.
Orange County DUI Defense at the Johnson Criminal Law Group
If your case involves a breath test, including failure or refusal, please contact our criminal defense attorney at the Johnson Criminal Law Group . We represent all those who have been charged with a DUI offense in our area.
A failed chemical testing or refusal does not mean that you will have to go to jail. There are several available defenses for you to fight the state’s case against you, including an illegal arrest (the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you), defective testing device, you were not advised by the arresting officer of the legal consequences of a refusal, or you did not refuse. Also, if you took prescribed medications prior to the administration of a chemical test, it is possible for there to be errors with the results of a blood or chemical test.
If you or a family member has been recently arrested for driving under the influence, get in touch with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer who is experienced with appropriate DUI testing procedures as soon as possible after an arrest. We can be reached by phone at (949) 622-5522 or you can send us a message online today.