california breathalyzer laws

With all of the driving that people do every single day, it can be easy for everyone to forget that driving is a privilege, not a right. As such, there are all sorts of things that a driver has to do in order to retain their privilege of having a driver’s license. Most of these things are pretty obvious, such as following driving laws.

Despite the obvious things that people have to do, there is one thing that some people don’t realize they agreed to the moment they got their license. This task would be agreeing to take a breathalyzer test whenever an officer asks.

California Vehicle Code 23612

While people are right in assuming that tests can only be performed on them if they give their consent, they fail to realize that they already gave their consent for a breathalyzer test. Implied consent to a breathalyzer is given the minute a person obtains their driver’s license. Just by getting a license, a person has agreed to take a breathalyzer test whenever a police officer asks for one.

This means a person cannot refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. If a person does, they are going to face some serious consequences, likely in addition to DUI charges. The arresting officer should warn the person of these consequences of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer.

All of this is laid out in California Vehicle Code (VC) 23612, which states that drivers have given their consent to chemical testing of their blood or breath to determine their alcohol content if they have been lawfully arrested.

Penalties of Refusing a DUI

Under VC 23612, a person faces the following penalties:

  • A fine.
  • Mandatory imprisonment if convicted of DUI.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 1 year. A person can face longer suspensions if they have one or more DUI’s in the last 10 years. Can be avoided if the driver agrees to have an Interlocking Ignition Device installed into their car for 1 year.

The other thing to remember with this law, is that it is often in addition to a DUI charge, as well as anything else the officer might charge the person with. This means the penalties can add up really quick.

Refusing Just Makes Things Worse

Refusing a breathalyzer test is never a good idea. Often times, it simply makes a driver look even more guilty than they already are. A person has to remember that a breathalyzer is not the only way a police officer determines if a driver is drunk. They can also conduct a field sobriety test, and make simple observations about the driver. Some warning signs of a driver being drunk that an officer can observe include: slurred speech, red eyes, and an unsteady walk. Refusing the breathalyzer can even be used against a person in court.

Luckily for most people, they don’t have to deal with this law, because they know better than to drive drunk. What do you think of California’s law against refusing to submit to a breathalyzer? Is it acceptable, or too much? Let us know in the comments down below.