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What does California's Implied Consent Law Mean?

California operates under various statutory provisions that guide traffic officers and motorists when moving on the roads. Moreover, the laws serve as a reference point to justify any arrests or directives issued by a traffic officer, including taking a breath test. As a result, if you, as a motorist, receive orders to take the breath test from the traffic officer in charge of a DUI checkpoint, you will be subject to California implied consent law. Since the regulation applies to people who have already faced a DUI arrest, you will have to follow through with the tests as directed by the officers. A failure to comply with the orders attracts several penalties, including sentence enhancements to your existing DUI violation.

Despite the stipulated laws, it is necessary to work with a criminal defense lawyer, especially after facing these additional charges. Your attorney will help you raise defenses to challenge the police officers and the prosecutor's move to file a charge based on your refusal to submit to the breath test. At Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney, you will work with some of the best defense lawyers in Los Angeles, California. With our years of specialization in DUI defense, we have developed reliable and professional defense systems that help our clients get the best case outcomes for their DUI charges.

Understanding the California Implied Consent Law

When you face arrest for a DUI violation, you will be in the custody of the arresting officers until further directives. Therefore, it is best to submit to their instructions, as you will have an easier time securing your release. Among the various procedures that follow your arrest include taking tests to affirm your drunkenness and booking into a police station. The necessity of these procedures lies in statutory and administrative laws that govern the state.

Subsequently, the California Implied Consent law is among the governing laws. The provision gives a compulsory directive to any arrested person to violate DUI laws to submit to a breath test. Undergoing the test is crucial because it provides accurate results on your blood alcohol concentration.

Section 23152 and 23153 of the California Vehicle Code provide various regulations on DUI offenses, including the standard BAC limit for driving when drunk. Following the provisions, it is unlawful for a motorist to go with a BAC level of over 0.08%. Consequently, the traffic officers need to determine whether you had surpassed the limit and, if so, by how much.

Mostly, you attract additional penalties by having a BAC level of over 0.15%, as it is almost twice above the limit. With the high levels recorded, you will likely face even harsher penalties when your matter proceeds to trial or for a formal DMV hearing. Since the essential requirement that paves the way for all these subsequent effects of your BAC levels depends on your breath test results, the implied consent laws find a legal standing.

Persons Affected by the California Implied Consent Law

As a motorist, you need to learn that the implied consent law applies to all California residents with a certified state driver's license. As a result, you cannot rely on any exemptions based on age or motorists' category you fall into to avoid the law. For example, a commercial motorist will face equal liability to any other motorist who drives to school or work.

Additionally, you will be subject to the laws even when you are not a California resident. In this case, despite having an out of state driver's license, the arresting officers expect you to submit and take the test or face additional penalties.

When you refuse to take the imposed breath test, the California police department can contact your state's department and transfer information to their offices. Consequently, even if you evade facing California penalties, you could be subject to punishment in your home state.

When the Law Applies

Usually, traffic officers cannot impose a DUI breath test immediately after stopping your vehicle. They must observe several protocols and allow you to exercise your rights, including a refusal to undergo field sobriety tests. Hence, undergoing a breath test imposed by the implied consent law applies after you face arrest for a suspected DUI violation.

The process leading to your arrest must also follow statutory procedures to promote fairness. Firstly, the arresting officer must form a probable cause to stop your car and subject you to scrutiny. A proper definition of 'probable cause' should include a reasonable doubt or suspicion of ongoing unlawful activity.

Hence, your arresting officer should adhere to the regulations set out under the Fourth Amendment and establish probable cause by identifying particular events or circumstances that led him/her to suspect you of criminal activity. Moreover, the Fourth Amendment makes it unlawful for officers to conduct unreasonable search and seizures on motorists without establishing probable cause. Under the law, the officer will have acted wrongfully for stopping you without reasonable suspicion of your intoxication.

However, if the officer had a probable cause to stop you and initiate an arrest, you are expected to adhere to the implied consent law and take the breath test. The test procedures may include a professional who specializes in administering the tests to promote results' accuracy.

California's Implied Consent Laws on Blood Tests

Primarily, the implied consent laws only warrant breath test administration to arrested motorists. Previous operations allowed the traffic officers to subject arrested suspects to blood or chemical test, especially where they suspected narcotic drug use. However, the laws progressed and shifted the imposition of chemical tests under a different law section.

As a result, you should not face penalties under the implied consent laws to refuse a chemical test after arrest. Nevertheless, most decisions depend on the judge presiding over your case, as different views exist.

Conditions that Attract DUI Blood Test Orders

While breath tests apply to any suspected DUI offenders, blood tests require officers to comply with a list of requirements before ordering you to take it. It is necessary for the police to ensure that you meet the set conditions, as blood tests are more advanced and involve more invasive processes. The main conditions that should be evident for you to undergo the test are:

  1. The Police Must Suspect You of a DUID

Driving under the influence of drugs(DUID) comes with different circumstances for you and traffic officers. Firstly, the available tests at a DUI checkpoint may be insufficient to check on your intoxication level where narcotics and other drugs are in your system. Hence, you will have to undergo a blood test that reveals your DUID intoxication levels after the arrest.

Despite the provisions allowing blood tests in DUID cases, traffic officers must rely on clear signs of your intoxication instead of unjustified suspicion. Some straightforward indicators of DUIDs are:

Making Statements in Admission

When you are highly intoxicated, you may lose control over what you say and end up admitting to being high. Moreover, you may also admit to taking drugs with others as the officer questions you. Some statements made in the admission of using drugs can also reveal the type of medication you used, leading to a further need for blood test administration.

Physical Body Attributes

Traffic officers will also examine any physical straits your display, primarily based on your body's reaction to drugs. For example, consuming marijuana often causes bloodshot and watery eyes. Also, drugs like cocaine cause your pupils to over dilate, making it easy for the traffic officers to form probable cause for arrest and imposition of blood tests.

Displaying Unusual Behavior

Doubtless, drugs will change your cognitive abilities and behavior, leading to suspicious reactions to everyday circumstances. For example, you may start laughing hysterically even as the officer informs you of possible arrest, as your mental capacity is altered. Moreover, gazing aimlessly as the police question, you are also a reasonable cause for blood tests.

  1. Availability of a Blood Test Warrant

After a judge issues an official warrant subjecting you to blood tests, officers will have legal authorization to complete the tests. Here, you will have little wiggle room to avoid the difficulties, as a failure to comply amounts to a breach of court orders.

  1. Involvement in a DUI Felony

When you commit a felony DUI, you will be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if you are eligible for further penalties. Felony DUIs include:

  • Having one previous wet reckless or felony conviction.
  • Causing a severe accident that results in injuries
  • Having three more DUIs within ten years.

The Difference Between Preliminary Alcohol Screening and Implied Consent Breath Tests

Most people think of preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) and breath tests as the same. However, they apply under different conditions and timelines and lead to other consequences. The distinguishing factor between these two tests is that the PAS process happens before you face arrest, while the breath test will only be implied after apprehension by the police.

For the PAS test, traffic officers will stop your car and request you to undertake a field sobriety test, including walking in a straight line, answering simple logical questions, and doing basic balance exercises.

Additionally, you can undertake the preliminary alcohol screening that works similarly to the actual breath tests. Once you agree to the screening, a traffic officer will hold a small device that you blow into. After a short period, the device will display a reading of your suspected alcohol concentration.

Using your preliminary alcohol screening results, the traffic officers can form probable cause for arrest, primary when you record high test results. Also, your PAS test results can provide evidence in a court trial to show your guilt in drinking and driving. The emphasis is more apparent in cases where your screening levels indicate a possibility of recording a high BAC level in subsequent tests.

Since the PAS tests are part of a routine field sobriety test procedure, you can decline to take it if you prefer not to. Your refusal to accept the preliminary alcohol screening should not attract any penalties because they are not compulsory in a DUI checkpoint. Nevertheless, it would help to decline the PAS test respectfully to avoid triggering more suspicions from the traffic officers.

Despite available liberties to decline the PAS test, some restrictions apply to particular categories of persons. They include:

Drivers Under Twenty-One Years

The DUI statutory provisions on DUI regulations create a zero-tolerance policy that affects minors under twenty-one years. Under the zero-tolerance guidelines, it is unlawful for a minor under 21 to consume alcohol, regardless of the quantity. Hence, if traffic police officers suspect drinking and driving, you cannot refuse to undertake the preliminary alcohol screening test. It is the only source of information on your current bodily state.

It helps to remember that if you are under 21 years, resisting the PAS can also indicate an outright cause for reasonable suspicion from the police. Hence, your refusal may become counterproductive and warrant arrest. Upon your apprehension, you will then be subject to the implied consent breath test.

Defendants With Previous DUI Convictions

Naturally, having a criminal record is detrimental to your current case as it increases the chances of a sentence enhancement. Therefore, if you are a previous DUI offender who faced even minor penalties, the criminal record waived your right to refuse a PAS rest.

Additionally, probation programs also warrant similar restrictions as they apply to convicted defendants. Hence, the tests administered on the highways act as part of your probationary period, requiring you to comply.

Penalties for Refusing Compulsory Breath or Blood Tests

After arrest, declining to undertake a breath or blood test amounts to violating the California consent implied laws. Hence, you will face several penalties on top of any other punishment issued for driving under the influence. The sentences will differ depending on your charges and on previous convictions. They include:

  • Losing driving privileges for a specific period
  • Serving two extra days in county jail and nine months in DUI school for the first time DUI offenders
  • Spending four additional days in a county jail for DUI second time offenders
  • Third time DUI offenders will spend ten more days in county jail.
  • Fourth or subsequent offenders will spend eighteen additional days in prison after completing their DUI sentence.

Your criminal defense attorney can help you raise a legal defense that prevents you from taking the compulsory tests. The basis for your defense will be that the traffic officers lacked a probable cause to stop and question you, meaning that your arrest was unlawful. If the argument is successful, you will not undergo the compulsory test.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When you face unfair impositions arising from unlawful arrests, you are entitled to a defense that protects you from subsequent penalties. If you genuinely believe that California implied consent laws do not apply to your DUI case, reaching out to your lawyer will help you find solutions for your benefit. At Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney, you will receive excellent legal services from our highly experienced and dedicated team serving Los Angeles, California. We will also support you throughout the DUI arrest and trial process for a successful outcome. To reach us, give us a call today at 323-464-6700.

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