When you are arrested for DUI in the state of California, the procedure from the time of being pulled over to being charged is rapid—and a significant portion of your immediate future hangs in the balance of those few minutes. Immediately following an arrest, the officer must immediately forward a copy of the suspension (or revocation, depending on the severity of the incident and your prior record) to the California DMV. The DMV will then determine whether or not that suspension will be upheld. If you receive word from the DMV that the suspension will indeed be upheld, you have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV in an attempt to overturn this. If you miss the window of those 10 days (beginning upon receipt of receiving the suspension notice), you forfeit your right to a hearing at the DMV. It is likely that your license will be confiscated by the officer at the time of the arrest. In order to receive it back at the end of the suspension period, you are required to pay a $125 fine to the DMV.
In California, you imply consent to taking a roadside chemical test if asked to do so when you get behind the wheel. This means that refusing to take a Breathalyzer test is illegal in California. If you fail the chemical test when administered and it is your first DUI offense, your license will automatically be suspended for a period of four months. A second, third, fourth, or subsequent offense will carry a much more stringent punishment. For a second offense alone, your license can be suspended up to a full year. If it is your second offense and someone was injured in an incident in which you were required to submit to chemical testing, you will likely spend time behind bars.
The only reasons allowed by law for refusing a roadside chemical test are:
- Either the blood or breath test is unavailable (ie: the officer does not have one);
- You are a hemophiliac; or
- If you are taking medication that is intended to lessen blood coagulation due to a serious heart condition.
Any other reason for refusing a roadside chemical test is not likely to hold up in a court of law.
If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Santa Clara County criminal defense attorney today.