The consequences for a DUI refusal case are harsh in California: up to a 3 year license suspension from the DMV, and mandatory jail time from the criminal courts. DUI refusal cases involve a situation where law enforcement has lawfully arrested someone for DUI and requested them to give a chemical blood alcohol sample. The sample can be obtained through blood or breath testing. Under California law, a person is required to provide this sample to law enforcement or face the penalties. The issues and defenses to DUI refusal cases is discussed below:
What happens in a typical DUI Refusal case:
DUI Refusal cases involve a DUI arrest where the driver refuses to submit a breath or blood sample to law enforcement. This violates California’s “Implied Consent” law, that says a person implicitly consents to a chemical test if they are arrested for suspicion of DUI. The penalty for refusing to submit a chemical sample is harsh: the driver faces a minimum 1 year drivers license suspension. There are no exceptions, no “to-from work” allowances, no waivers. The DUI Refusal suspension is the most severe driver’s license suspension a DUI driver can face.
What does the DMV have to establish in DUI Refusal Cases:
The DMV has to establish there was a lawful arrest of the driver and that the driver, after being properly admonished, refused to submit a chemical test for their blood alcohol level.
In order for the DMV to suspend a driver’s license for 1 year due to a refusal, the DMV has to first establish that the driver was lawfully arrested. This means the driver was seen violating a vehicle code section or committing some type of offense to warrant detention by police. Other examples of justifications for arrest can be found in CVC 40300.5, such as being present at the scene of an accident with evidence that the driver was driving before the accident occured. If the police make errors in arresting the driver that render the arrest unlawful, the DMV cannot use the arrest and subsequent refusal as a basis for suspending the driver’s license.
If a lawful arrest can be shown, the driver must the be properly admonished. Admonishment is a fancy legal word for “warning” and in the context of DUI cases means the driver was warned that if they refuse to give a blood or breath sample, they would lose their license for 1 year and face criminal consequences including mandatory incarceration.
Useful DUI Refusal links: