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DUI Tests & Your Rights

Roth Legal, A Professional Law Corporation July 27, 2022

Policeman Holding a Breathalyzer for DUI TestDriving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in California. That is why it is critical to understand your rights when stopped on suspicion of DUI or arrested by law enforcement for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, consider contacting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Attorney Ryan Roth offers compassionate and fearless representation for clients facing DUI and other charges throughout the state of California.

Roth Legal, A Professional Law Corporation serves clients in and around Modesto, California, as well as Merced, Stockton, Manteca, and throughout the state.

Your Rights When Stopped for DUI

You probably wonder, “So, what are my rights when being pulled over for a DUI?” Some of the fundamental rights that you should be aware of when stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence are your:

  1. Right to not incriminate yourself. This one might sound confusing to many, but this right is actually guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and protects people from self-incrimination. What it means is that you do not have an obligation to answer any incriminating questions a police officer asks you when you are pulled over. Thus, you do not have to answer questions such as, “Have you been drinking tonight?” and “Where are you driving from?”  

  2. Right against unlawful searches and seizures. Law enforcement must have probable cause to search your vehicle. The U.S. Constitution protects residents from unlawful searches and seizures, which means the police need a warrant, your consent, or probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime in order to search your car during a DUI stop.

  3. Right to refuse to take certain DUI tests. The right does not apply to all DUI tests, which is why it is imperative that you understand which tests you can refuse and which ones you must submit to under the implied consent law.

  4. Right to refuse to do preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). Preliminary alcohol screening, which is also known as a roadside breath test, is not mandatory unless you are (a) under the age of 21 or (b) on probation for a DUI. A PAS is a field sobriety test and should not be confused with a breath test performed at a police station. Breath tests at a station are mandatory.

  5. Right to contact an attorney. You can exercise your right to legal counsel by asking the police officer to give you a chance to call an attorney. Generally, it is best to talk to an attorney before answering any questions at the police station.

DUI Tests in California and Your Rights

When being pulled over for suspicion of DUI, you need to understand the implied consent law in California. Implied consent means that you must submit to a breath or blood test when you are arrested for driving under the influence. Motorists in California give their “implied consent” to take chemical testing when they are issued their driver’s licenses.

However, the implied consent law does not apply to field sobriety tests in California. In fact, field sobriety tests are highly inaccurate and subjective, which is why drivers facing DUI charges are often able to challenge the results of the sobriety tests to avoid a conviction.

What are the consequences of refusing a DUI test in California? That depends on whether you refuse a field sobriety test or chemical test:

  • Field sobriety test (FST). There are no penalties for refusing to perform any of the field sobriety tests, which include the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the walk-and-turn test. However, a police officer may still arrest you for DUI if they notice signs of impairment, regardless of whether you take or refuse an FST.

  • Chemical test. While there are no consequences for refusing a field sobriety test, the same cannot be said about chemical testing, which includes breath, blood, and urine tests. The penalties for refusing to take a chemical test include a suspension of the driver’s license for a year for a first refusal.

Don’t Face a DUI Arrest Alone

If you are facing DUI charges or are asked to submit to DUI tests, consider contacting an attorney to learn about your rights. Being pulled over or arrested for DUI can be a stressful experience. Roth Legal, A Professional Law Corporation is dedicated to helping those who face criminal charges for driving under the influence in Modesto, California, and elsewhere in the state. Get a case evaluation to learn more about rights today.