If you have been accused of driving under the influence in California, there are several things you need to know to know about your rights when it comes to chemical testing. Whenever you get behind the wheel of a car in the United States, you are under the auspices of implied consent.
Understanding Implied Consent
Every state in the country has some form of implied consent law, which means that by operating a vehicle on a public road, you are agreeing to submit to chemical testing if pulled over and asked by an officer of the law to undergo a test. Refusal to submit to a requested chemical test when driving on a public road is a violation of the law, and punishment can be much harsher than it would have otherwise been. That is, fines and jail time could be greater than if the chemical test had revealed that you were driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.
More Than Chemical Testing
Implied consent laws do not limit to one type of DUI testing. In addition to chemical testing, you may be asked to exit your vehicle and perform a field sobriety test. Again, refusal to do so can result in more severe punishment. The principles of implied consent apply even if you were not initially pulled over for driving behavior associated with intoxication. If you are pulled over for having a taillight out, for example, you may still be asked to submit to chemical testing if the officer feels there is due cause. This is similar in nature to being asked to produce a license and registration; failure to do so can result in higher fines on the grounds that you were driving without the proper authorization to do so, even though that was not why you were pulled over.
There are many factors that give an officer due cause or probable cause to administer a field sobriety test. These include, but are not limited to:
- Watching a person stagger from a bar and get into the driver’s seat of a car;
- Erratic driving, like swerving or running red lights;
- Seeing a person drinking from a bottle while driving; and
- Being called by another motorist on the road who noticed erratic driving.
If you or someone you know has been accused of DUI, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Whether you submitted to chemical testing or not, your attorney can help you explore your options on how to proceed. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced San Jose criminal defense attorney today.