DMV Consequences for Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test

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DMV Consequences for Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test

The implied consent law makes it a requirement for a driver to consent to a chemical test if they are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These tests are the breath, blood, and urine tests. All three of these methods can be challenged successfully by a California attorney with expertise in DUI / DWI defense, so refusal is not necessarily a smart option. The Department of Motor Vehicles will begin a one year suspension of driving privileges while trial courts will add additional penalties for refusal to test.

According to California cases, the meaning of refusal is anything other than unequivocal assent to the test. One can make an express refusal or an implied refusal. An express refusal exists where a person says, ‘no, I refuse to take that test." An implied refusal exists where a person has not specifically stated that they refuse the test, but they have gone on to obstruct the test by blocking the mouthpiece of a breathalyzer with their hands or by failing to blow into the mouthpiece. These are actions that imply that a person is unwilling to take the test.

A person will suffer the same consequences for an implied refusal as they would for an express refusal. It is important to defend yourself if you have been accused of making an implied refusal. An attorney with DUI / DWI expertise, having seen such cases before, will investigate in order to determine whether a refusal actually took place.

If the person who refused to do the chemical test was arrested for a first offence, the immediate penalty they will suffer is a suspension of driving privileges by the DMV. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend driving privileges for one year. A restricted license to drive to work will not be an option. While it is likely that a person is found guilty of drunk driving will suffer license suspensions, those suspensions are not as harsh nor as lengthy as those given when there is refusal to submit to a chemical test.

For those who are repeat offenders, penalties even more harsh. For a second violation within ten years, a refusal will result in a two year suspension. A refusal on a third offense in ten years gets a three year suspensions and a refusal on fourth offence in ten years gets a four year suspension of all driving privileges.

If one is unconscious or semi-conscious and does not do the chemical tests, no refusal has taken place. People drifting in and out of consciousness do not have the capacity to refuse.

The police must inform a driver that the tests are mandatory and that there are negative repercussions for refusal to take the tests. If the driver is not properly informed, the refusal may not be used against them. The failure of an officer to warn of the consequences of refusal is a defense that can succeed at a DMV hearing too.

Refusals, both express and implied can lead to harsh consequences for a driver who did not necessarily refuse any tests. Seek a free evaluation from a California attorney with expertise in DUI / DWI defense in order to ensure that a non-refusal is not held against you at a DMV hearing.