If you plan on drunk driving in the state of California, plan on having to take a breathalyzer test. That is to say, you do not have the right to refuse chemical testing if you are pulled over for alleged drunk driving in California. This is a right that you surrender with the acceptance of your California state license. If you refuse to submit or to complete the required chemical testing, you will be slapped with a hefty fine or mandatory imprisonment.
Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles, simply refusing to participate in chemical testing will also result in the suspension of one’s ability to drive a motor vehicle for one year (up to two years if there are multiple infractions in less than one year), in addition to fines and jail time.
According to the National Motorists Association (NMA), you could be slapped with heavy penalties as such even if you are not found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent. If an accident occurs and you are found to have any alcohol content in your system and the official on the scene declares that you were too impaired to drive — even if you were below the legal alcohol limit — you can be declared responsible for the accident, even if it was not technically your fault.
The best way to avoid having to submit to chemical testing in the event of being pulled over in an alleged drunk driving stop is to give the officer no reason to ask you to administer one in the first place. According to the NMA, you can avoid being randomly pulled over by ensuring that your vehicle is in clean working condition with all headlights and taillights functioning. If you are pulled over, do not offer any more information to the officer than is perfunctory and necessary: you are under no obligation to admit that you just had “one beer after dinner,” for example.
If the officer asks you to get out of the car, you still may not have to submit to chemical testing: he will first ask you to participate in some field sobriety tests. Do not rebuke the officer or refuse to do these. If he decides to do a chemical test after this, you are most likely better off to take it, even if it means that you will fail.
If you have been convicted of drunk driving, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Santa Clara County criminal attorney today.