Anyone who police suspect of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence can be detained, arrested, and charged with the offense. As most people know, individuals suspected of any sort of crime have certain rights, including the right to remain silent, the right to speak with legal counsel, and the right not to make any statements that would be self incriminating. What they may not realize is that California’s implied consent laws, which apply to any person who is licensed by the state of California to operate a motor vehicle, restrict how a person is legally allowed to respond to allegations that he or she has been operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Chemical Testing Required by Law
The primary provision of California’s implied consent law that affects drivers accused of driving under the influence is one which states that a refusal to submit to a chemical test of either blood, breath, or urine can result in further penalties including jail time, fines, and/or the loss of driving privileges. Generally, DUI defense attorneys agree that it is in a person’s best interests to submit to chemical tests while continuing to exercise the right to remain silent.
A person is not granted the right to legal counsel during the advisement of test refusal consequences by police nor during the actual sample collection procedure, but this does not mean that all other rights are abandoned. Technically, a test can be refused, but if a person is accused of DUI in which death or major injury was involved, then a sample can be taken by force if police are able to get a judge to sign off on a warrant. This is not typically the procedure if a person is not suspected of causing injury or death to another person.
Dealing with Unconscious Suspects
If a person is unconscious during the sample collection portion of a DUI investigation, the person may feel as if his or her rights have been violated since no consent was offered for the test. However, because of implied consent laws and the fact that California drivers already consented to chemical testing when they were issued their licenses, police do not need repeated consent at the time of an investigation in order to take a blood sample for chemical testing – the consent which the driver provided when his or her license was issued is considered to be valid and in place even if the driver is unconscious.
Considering that it is generally better for drivers suspected of DUI to consent to chemical tests, the fact that a sample was taken while the person was unconscious is not generally a bad thing. Since a sample was collected, the suspect’s own legal counsel has the chance to have the sample independently tested which, in some cases, can help to disprove the prosecutor’s case against the driver.
Always Seek the Advice of Counsel
No matter the circumstances relating to a suspected case of DUI, suspects are encouraged to seek the advice of legal counsel before facing the charges in court. An experienced DUI attorney may sometimes be able to have the consequences of an offense reduced if charges can’t be dropped entirely.