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California DMV & Chemical Test Refusals In DUI Cases

If you are driving a vehicle in California, you have agreed to a chemical test of your breath or blood to determine the alcohol and/or drug content, if you are lawfully arrested and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, (implied consent). The required chemical test must be given after a lawful arrest. If you refuse, you may suffer harsher consequences through the DMV and in the court.

The preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, the handheld breath test that is given at the scene, is just a field sobriety test. You can and should refuse to take that test, as well as any other field sobriety tests, unless you are under 21 or on DUI probation.

Once arrested, you must provide a sample of your breath or blood. However, in some instances, such as the other tests are not available, drugs are suspected and you cannot provide a blood test, or you have a medical condition that does not allow you to provide a breath or blood sample, a urine test may be offered instead.

If you fail to submit to a chemical test after a lawful arrest, the DMV will take immediate action on your driving privileges. You will be given notice that your driver’s license will be suspended 30 days after the arrest unless you request a hearing within 10 days after the arrest date. If you fail to request the hearing, or if the DMV does not set aside the license suspension after the hearing, your license will suspended for one year on your first offense, revoked for two years on your second offense within 10 years, and revoked for three years on your third offense within 10 years. (Note, this is separate from any action that the court may take against your license in the criminal portion of your case.)

If a DMV hearing is requested, the Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing will only address four issues:

  1. Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence?
  2. Where you lawfully arrested?
  3. Did you refuse to submit to, or did you not complete, the test as requested by the officer?
  4. Were you properly told that your license would be suspended or revoked if you refused the test?

There are several defenses that a skilled DUI defense attorney can assert in your APS Hearing. They included: 1.) You were not lawfully arrested; 2.) You were not properly admonished that your license would be suspended or revoked if you refused the test; 3.) You refused or failed to complete the test due to a medical condition or injury; and, 4.) The officer did not reasonably believe you were DUI at the time of the arrest.

If you were arrested for drunk driving, you owe it to yourself to immediately contact a DUI defense attorney to discuss your rights. Call the Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman for your FREE phone consultation today: (619) 260-1122. Do not just allow the DMV to automatically suspend your driver’s license. Challenge the suspension at the APS Hearing.

This blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For information about a specific case, speak to a DUI defense lawyer in your area.