You make the decision to drive home after drinking with friends. Though your drive proves quick, you commit a minor traffic violation, and an officer pulls you over. As he or she notices signs of intoxication, the officer asks you to consent to a field sobriety test to determine your blood-alcohol level. You know that you have the opportunity to refuse the test, but you worry about the quantity of consequences that may arise if you do not consent to a BPT test, as you already have multiple DUI convictions.
Driving while intoxicated constitutes a dangerous crime in California, and the punishments reflect this illegal decision. Yet penalties increase significantly when you refuse to breathalyze at the scene if the officer requests the test. Although you hold the legal right to determine that refusal lies in your best interest, a refusal charge may subject you to serious penalties due to your previous DUI convictions. During any DUI traffic stop, you want to contact an experienced attorney if possible before you consent or refuse to breathalyze, so that he or she may help you determine the best route to take.
California’s multiple DUI penalties
According to California law, upon your first DUI conviction, you may have faced up to $1,000 in fines, a 6-month license suspension and jail time.
Upon a second and third DUI conviction, those found guilty face “increased penalties”, according to the California Driver Handbook. Depending on the severity of your intoxication and circumstances of your violation, you will most likely face:
- Increased jail time
- Increased fines
- SR-22 filing
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
- Up to a 2-year license suspension or revocation
Penalties only increase when you injure another driver, a passenger or a pedestrian. Serious civil penalties arise when victims face injury or death from an intoxicated driver.
Refusing to consent to a breathalyzer
You understand that committing to give evidence of your intoxication to a police officer through a documented test could mean strict penalties and the loss of your license. Yet your refusal of a PBT test will indicate your violation of the Implied Consent Law. The law states that if you hold a valid California driver’s license, you automatically consent to a chemical test while driving. Not completing the test commits an offense.
For first-time refusal offenders, if convicted, you may receive a 1-year license suspension. Should you have decided to refuse the test during your past DUI charges, you will receive a 2-year or 3-year suspensions. These penalties will add to your DUI penalties given in court.
The punishments increase substantially when drivers commit multiple DUI offenses in within 10 years in California, and many drivers opt to add further penalties by refusing to commit to a roadside breathalyzer. Though it is your legal right to not submit your BAC-level to an officer, know that if you exhibit signs of intoxication at the scene or fail the motor skills portion of a field sobriety test, an officer may issue a warrant and obtain your level of intoxication at the station.
You want to speak with a criminal defense attorney at the scene or immediately after a DUI charge, so that he or she can understand the circumstances of your case and begin preparing the best defense.