Refusing A Breathalyzer In California

Erratic driving, reckless driving, or speeding are all grounds for a California police officer to pull you over. Often, officers will suspect that you’re driving under the influence if they observe that your vehicle isn’t following standard traffic laws. However, there are plenty of reasons why you might violate laws, and they don’t have to include alcohol consumption or a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher. For example, you may have been driving erratically, recklessly, or speeding because you became ill, hadn’t taken your medication, or were experiencing an emergency.

Unfortunately, most officers will request that you take a breathalyzer test to learn whether you were drunk driving. The request may upset you if you know that you weren’t drinking before getting behind the wheel or if you feel as though your rights are being violated. If you’ve refused a breathalyzer test, contact The Justice Firm to represent you.

California’s Breathalyzer Laws

California’s breathalyzer laws are clear. Anyone who decides to operate a vehicle automatically consents to submit to an officer’s chemical, blood, or urine test. This law is known as the Implied Consent law. Officers perform these tests while on the road or at a police station. They do these tests with the intent to help keep the roads safe and to detect people who drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

You do not have a right to request a lawyer during this period because the police have not yet made an arrest. This is true even if you’re a minor. Yet, you can refuse to blow into the breathalyzer.

But refusing to take this test can come with significant penalties. It’s not uncommon for people to think that refusing to take this test will benefit their DUI case, but that is rarely the reality. Criminal courts are permitted to enter evidence that you wouldn’t let an officer test your blood alcohol content level. As you may imagine, such evidence is more likely to sway a judge or jurors into thinking that you had something to hide, such as being under the influence. Thus, it is in your favor to submit to the breathalyzer test.

If your test results come back with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher (or. 0.04 if driving a commercial vehicle), there are still defenses at your disposal. For example, there may be grounds to argue that:

  • the officers didn’t follow standard procedure when administering the test,
  • the officers used faulty equipment when administering the test, or
  • the test results are insufficient for one reason or another.


Suppose you’re found guilty of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. In that case, you’re looking at spending an additional 48 hours in jail and a one-year driver’s license suspension as a first-time offender. You will spend an additional 96 hours in jail and a two-year license suspension as a second-time offender. For a third-time offender, you’ll sit in jail for an extra ten days and have your license suspended for three years.

Contact A Knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Now that you’re aware of what’s at stake, it’s imperative that you contact a knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. For your convenience, we offer a 24/7 live answering service. You may call us toll-free at 866-695-6714 or locally at 310-914-2444. You may also fill out our contact form here to schedule a free consultation. If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to peruse our list of unsurpassed lawyers. We look forward to representing you and getting you a result that’s favorable to your goals, reputation, and liberty.

Click here to learn more from The Justice Firm’s DUI defense lawyers about DUI in California.

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