Facing arrest for a DUI offense can result in serious consequences, including jail and fine sentences. However, the prosecutor must first gather enough evidence showing your intoxication levels before a formal trial case can be presented against you. Subsequently, you will be subjected to DUI tests based on the implied consent laws. During the period after arrest, you may be unaware of your legal rights.
These include the right to refuse the DUI test and the requirement for police officers to present a warrant before subjecting you to a test. To avoid these conflicting issues, work with a qualified DUI defense attorney. He/she will build strong defenses and use them to fight your charges.
At Bakersfield DUI Attorney, we are determined to provide excellent and reliable defenses to clients facing DUI charges in Bakersfield, California. We are also ready to represent you in court if your case is formally filed and proceeds to trial. You can rely on us to present accurate evidence and persuasive arguments.
Understanding the Implied Consent Laws
When a traffic officer suspects you of driving under the influence, he/she can stop you for a DUI check. Among the various laws describing DUI tests and consent is section 23612 of the California Vehicle Code. Generally, the DUI implied consent law is applicable to all motorists, provided they use any route within California.
In California, operating a vehicle already provides implied consent for officers to conduct the test in case of reasonable suspicion. Further, the provision states that any driver arrested due to DUI suspicions provides implied consent to undergo chemical and breathalyzer tests. Due to these strict guidelines, any motorist is expected to submit to the traffic officers' requirements after apprehension.
Applicability of the Implied Consent Laws
The implied consent laws apply to a broad range of motorists so that you may be answerable to the law regardless of different circumstances. Firstly, implied consent laws bind all motorists operating on any roads within California. Under the California Vehicle Code provisions, this includes younger drivers who may have recently received their driver's license.
Secondly, you will be governed by the law even as a California resident, provided the state issued a driver's license. The extended applicability of the law ensures that residents who are not citizens remain responsible and avoid driving under the influence. Thus, the repercussions for legal violations may include deportation, particularly for repeat offenders.
The third category of people affected by the laws in California are non-residents. They include visitors from other states and tourists from other countries who use hired vehicles for transportation. Although these people may be unaware of the California laws, drinking and driving are considered irresponsible behavior punishable under the law in most states in the country and other jurisdictions. Subsequently, the legal imposition will affect these people regardless of their unfamiliarity with the California Vehicle Code provisions.
The Difference Between Preliminary Alcohol Screening and DUI Tests Under Implied Consent Laws
Some motorists may be unaware of the differences between preliminary alcohol screening(PAS) tests and any other DUI tests administered after arrest. The first type of testing occurs before the traffic officers apprehend you. It is often used to gather sufficient information that is then used to form probable cause for your lawful arrest. Therefore, traffic officers at a DUI checkpoint will administer these tests shortly after stopping you.
Typically, preliminary alcohol screening tests include simple procedures highlighting a driver's intoxication level, if any. They form part of the field sobriety tests, aimed at checking a suspect's intoxication levels. Common tests administered at DUI checkpoints include:
PAS Breathalyser Tests
A preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test is administered using a breathalyzer device. However, most devices used at the DUI checkpoint are less advanced than those found at the station. Hence, the checkpoint results may be inaccurate or highly estimated to provide basic information. The testing officer's main objective is to determine whether any amounts of alcohol are traceable in your body. The readings may display a blood alcohol concentration percentage or simply state the presence/absence of alcohol.
Physical Activity Tests
Traffic officers are also fond of administering tests involving physical activities to gauge your mind-body coordination. This is because most intoxicated persons will lose their mobility support and cognitive ability. Staggering and slurring are common indicators of suspects who may have indulged in drinking high alcohol levels. Due to this, the officers can easily distinguish sober drivers from those suspected of driving under the influence.
Mostly, motorists will need to walk in a straight line or balance on one foot for a few seconds before the officer can form probable cause for arrest. In some cases, you may also need to answer simple logic or mathematical questions requiring a mental application. This is to test the intoxication levels, if any, upon suspicion of violating DUI laws. However, failing the question does not necessarily mean you will face immediate arrest.
Characteristics of Preliminary Alcohol Screening Tests
Several characteristics exist to distinguish PAS tests from DUI tests enforced under the implied consent laws. The main factor separating these two tests is whether the police have apprehended you. Hence, learning of the characteristics of this type of test will help you know your rights and avoid facing unlawful procedures. They include:
You Do not Risk Facing any Penalties for Refusing PAS Tests
While traffic officers at a DUI checkpoint may intimidate you into agreeing to a PAS test, you should note that your refusal to submit does not warrant any consequences. While PAS tests are important in establishing probable cause for officers, they are prone to being inaccurate and unfairly imposed.
Moreover, forcing a suspected DUI offender to undertake the test is similar to providing self-incriminating evidence, especially if intoxicated. Thus, the constitutional provisions that protect your right to a fair trial prevent PAS tests from becoming mandatory.
However, two main groups of motorists lack the liberty to reject the preliminary alcohol screening tests. The first category includes any driver under twenty-one years. These restrictions exist as the young driver is legally prohibited from using drugs or alcohol based on age restrictions. Since the suspected driver will have already violated a law by suspected drinking and driving, traffic officers are mandated by law to subject the person to PAS.
You do not have to worry about taking the test, as the retrieved details are primarily used to form probable cause for arrest. Afterward, your attorney can dispute their applicability as sources of evidence in the trial.
Additionally, previous DUI offenders under probation will also undergo preliminary alcohol screening tests based on their criminal record. Typically, any repeat offender is set to face stricter restrictions than first-time offenders based on probation regulations. Under the rules, committing the same offense you face probation for may result in serious outcomes.
For example, your probation sentence could be revoked and replaced with mandatory incarceration. We, therefore, recommend any previous DUI offender to contact his/her attorney immediately after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint.
Submitting to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Provides an Evidential Sources in Trial
Upon agreeing to undertake a PAS test, your results will be an evidential source if the matter proceeds to trial. Hence, submitting to these procedures waives the rights discussed above, especially if the officers form a probable cause for arrest. Additionally, any other tests administered at the station will also form part of the prosecutor's evidential sources.
You can avoid placing yourself at this disadvantageous position by declining to the tests unless you are under twenty-one or on probation. Upon doing so, you do not face any risks of facing additional penalties, and you will reduce the prosecutor's evidential claims against you. Further, your attorney will have a better argument point concerning your DUI test results because there will be no PAS tests to compare them to.
Tests Administered Under Implied Consent Laws
Conversely, you will be subjected to different types of tests after arrest governed by section 23612 of the California Vehicle Code. Since they only apply after your apprehension, the presiding traffic officer must establish probable cause for arrest, leading to detention and subsequent subjection to the test.
Mostly, probable cause is formed based on the traffic officer's observations at the DUI checkpoint, along with any additional information, including the presence of previous DUI convictions. After reporting to the station, you will be prompted on the need to undertake a DUI test. Nonetheless, the presiding officer should adhere to the prerequisites of a valid implied consent DUI test. This ensures that he/she upholds a fair criminal procedure process leading to a criminal trial.
After detention at the station, police officers may also apply discretion to determine the type of test to administer. On one hand, you may have to undergo a breathalyzer test using advanced devices that produce accurate results. On the other hand, the officers may decide to administer a chemical test, especially if they suspect you of being under the influence of drugs. Since breathalyzers may not detect the drugs in your bloodstream, drawing blood samples for chemical tests is necessary.
Prerequisites for Subjecting a Chemical DUI Test
If the officers decide to administer a subsequent chemical test, it should provide accurate results compared to PAS tests. Furthermore, the chemical test involves drawing blood samples for testing, compared to alternative breathalyzer tests. Therefore, since the procedure is slightly uncomfortable and provides information for use against you in court, several conditions must be met. Adhering to these requirements ensures that your liberty and the due legal process are upheld. The main prerequisites are:
Presenting a Warrant to Impose the DUI Test
Presenting a warrant to conduct your DUI test is among the most important factors for officers to comply with. The document includes a formal order from a judge directing you to comply with the instructions. Its formality, therefore, makes it a valid authorization document for the officers to present. However, some warrants take time to finalize depending on the judge's availability and his/her workload.
The officers may therefore proceed to administer a chemical test backed by other justifications. For example, a DUI offender suspected of committing a felony DUI can have the test done based on the urgency of the matter. Additionally, your blood alcohol levels continue to decrease hours after the initial consumption. Hence, the officer's primary interest is to collect samples before your BAC levels fall. This is to avoid the possibility of dropping charges if the results indicate a BAC of less than 0.08%.
The Traffic Officers Suspects you of a Felony DUI
Most chemical tests are reserved for suspected felony offenders. This is the highest degree of DUI violations, as it may indicate multiple previous offenses. Alternatively, a felony offense may arise from your involvement in causing harm based on your intoxication levels.
For example, some cases involve extremely drunk or high suspects who cause severe road accidents. As a result, the victims may suffer from severe injuries or fatalities. Property damages involving other people's vehicles are also common for motorists engaged in felony DUIs.
Any suspect with a DUI criminal record may also face felony DUI charges based on the stringent measures that govern repeat offenders. Therefore, an officer will search fit your previous records during the booking process at the station. If any information appears in your background check, you can expect to face a chemical test under the implied consent regulations.
Sometimes, prior criminal records may include other offenses apart from DUI offenses. Although the legal system is inclined towards imposing harsher penalties for repeat offenders, the arresting officers should determine whether the offenses affect your current circumstances. For example, having a carjacking conviction record may be tied to DUI tendencies, as you may have committed the first offense under the influence. On the other hand, a cybercrime may have little to no interrelation with your current DUI charge.
A DUI felony charge may also arise from multiple previous offenses. Under section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code, penalties on repeat offenses are considered within a ten-year bracket. Based on this timeline, any subsequent arrest and charge increase the risks of facing harsher penalties. Upon surpassing three previous DUI convictions, your status changes to a felony. The same provisions apply for any charges reduced from a DUI to a wet reckless charge, as the cause of trial remains the same.
The Officers Suspect You of a Drug DUI
Apart from alcoholic intoxication, suspects may also be under the influence of drugs. Most narcotics lead to drastic side effects, including hallucinations and poor mind-body coordination. Driving in this state would be dangerous for you and other motorists, leading to an arrest when traffic officers reasonably suspect you of a DUID.
Unlike alcohol DUIs, a drug DUI is harder to prove using breathalyzer tests. Thus, most tests conducted at checkpoints for suspected DUIDs will include field sobriety tests like walking in a straight line. Officers are also keen to observe the suspect's physical condition based on the prominent bodily changes observed in drug users. For example, people who smoke marijuana are prone to having bloodshot eyes. Pupil dilation is also common for people using cocaine or heroin.
Since traffic officers operating DUI checkpoints are well versed with the symptoms to look out for, you are likely to face arrest and be subjected to the chemical test.
Penalties for Declining a DUI Test under Implied Consent Laws
As mentioned, you can choose to reject the DUI test after arrest despite the implied consent rules. However, you should note that several disadvantages come with this decision based on non-compliance with the law. Consequently, you risk facing these outcomes for rejecting a DUI test:
First offenders will spend two more days in custody on top of their primary sentence.
Second-time DUI offenders within ten years will spend four additional days in jail after completing their sentence.
Third-time offenders have ten days added to their jail sentence.
Fourth-time offenders spend eighteen more days in jail after completing their sentence.
You will have your license suspended or revoked for over one year after an arrest.
Defenses on Refusal to Adhere to DUI Implied Consent Laws
Although you have the right to decline from undertaking the DUI test even after an arrest, you can offer various justifications for your actions. Your DUI attorney should help you prepare your defenses before your court appearance. In return, adequate preparation increases the chances of persuading the judge of your innocence in committing a DUI offense.
Additionally, the presented defenses should provide detailed information on your non-compliance with the requirements. Stating the defense without a detailed explanation coupled with evidence supporting your claims could reduce your credibility. Consequently, you will face sentence enhancements, including extended prison sentences and higher fine penalties. Some defenses include:
Traffic Officers Engaged in Police Misconduct
While law enforcement officers should operate within the law’s scope and undertake fair investigations, police misconduct may arise. Malpractice involves breaking regulations to place the suspect in a more disadvantaged position, depending on the circumstances of each case. Subsequently, your case may involve various forms of police misconduct arising from collusion.
For example, officers may alter the results of a preliminary alcohol screening test that you took voluntarily. They may do this to increase the readings, making you vulnerable to subsequent prosecution and detention. Similarly, police misconduct extends to harassing a DUI suspect into providing self-incriminating evidence. Some may also force you to take the tests without showing a warrant. These non-procedural actions are sufficient to raise a counter-argument against the prosecutor.
Your main argument basis should aim to highlight the officers' non-compliance with the due process of law. As a result, since the process of gathering evidence, forming probable cause, and subjecting tests are incorrect, the trial may become invalid.
In doing this, your DUI attorney should aim to access all the necessary evidence required to prove your case. This is especially important because claims of police misconduct are serious and could cost the involved officers their careers.
Your DUI Stop was Unlawful
While DUI checkpoints are an acceptable way to find DUI suspects, they should be set up according to legal provisions. For example, traffic officers must inform the public of an upcoming DUI checkpoint. The details should include the time and location of the proposed checkpoint to give motorists a fair preparation process. Ambushing motorists to catch as many suspects as possible may be chaotic, as some drivers try to avert the checkpoint. Consequently, road accidents may be inevitable.
Further, all traffic officers at the checkpoint should wear their full uniform to avoid misleading the general public into stopping without cause. Traffic police vehicles should also have their lights on, as it indicates police activity around the area. You should also note that only the presiding traffic officer in a specific squad should administer tests after arrest.
Subsequently, if you can provide evidence of the violation of any DUI checkpoint regulations, your defense is acceptable. Your attorney should confirm that your arguments align with statutory provisions to avoid redundancy or contradiction.
Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me
When officers stop you at a DUI checkpoint, your initial reaction may lead to suspicion of violating DUI regulations. However, undertaking a DUI test under the implied consent laws should be voluntary. Nonetheless, your DUI attorney will support you through the various circumstances that may arise before and after your test. The lawyer will help improve the chances of averting harsh penalties like incarceration.
When choosing a DUI attorney, you should find a reliable one with a wealth of experience in the field. Their diligence in handling your case should be relentless to help you retain your liberty and seek justice in cases of police misconduct. At Bakersfield DUI Attorney, you will benefit from the support and representation we provide to clients facing charges in Bakersfield, California. Over the years, we have grown our practice to provide impeccable legal services that meet your needs. For more information, call us today at 661-215-5660.