Due to California’s strict implied consent laws, anyone who is suspected by police of driving under the influence and who refuses to submit a sample of their blood, breath, or urine for chemical analysis faces separate legal trouble for the refusal alone, in addition to charges for DUI.
Only in rare circumstances will it be in a DUI suspect’s best legal interests to refuse to submit a sample of either blood, breath, or urine. These circumstances are so limited and fact specific, that they should only be explained by an experienced DUI defense attorney. In some cases, the DUI suspect may have no choice in the matter, if the police can get a judge to sign off on a warrant for a forced blood draw (which is very rare, but a real possibility).
For a large majority of individuals who are suspected of DUI, simply submitting to the chemical test mandated by law is most likely the person’s best legal option.
If an Option, Choose Blood
Suspects of DUI in California are generally presented with three options for the type of chemical test they would like to submit to. They can choose either blood, breath, or urine. It is generally agreed within the legal community that, if a suspect is going to submit to a chemical test, then that suspect should select the blood test.
Chemical tests of blood samples are generally the most accurate, and can give the suspect’s DUI defense attorney a tangible sample that can be independently tested.
Immediate Consequences of a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test Refusal
Should a person suspected of driving under the influence in California refuse to provide a sample of either their blood, breath, or urine for chemical testing, the refusal will generally result in the immediate suspension of driving privileges for at least a year. A longer suspension may go into effect if a person has a history of reckless driving or DUI charges.
As far as DUI charges go, many motorists think that if they refuse to submit to any chemical tests, that they will sabotage the prosecution’s case and force the prosecution to drop the charges. However, California’s laws allow prosecutors to move forward with DUI charges in the absence of chemical test results by allowing the prosecutor to raise the issue of the test refusal as evidence in the DUI trial. Further, if the DUI suspect is eventually convicted of the offense, then the initial refusal to submit to a test could result in additional jail time.
No Right to Have an Attorney Present
The law does not consider the extraction of blood, breath or urine for chemical testing to be a form of questioning and, therefore, does not grant DUI suspects the right to an attorney during the collection of a sample. Individuals who may be charged with DUI, however, should understand that the chemical test is only a small part of a person’s DUI defense. To make sure they have the best chance possible at a solid defense, DUI suspects should always refuse to answer any questions from law enforcement until an attorney has been retained. They should remain silent through the collection of any samples and, in fact, through the entire process.