Being stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, or DUI, can be a frightening experience for anyone. If you are subsequently arrested and charged with DUI in San Diego the arresting officer will likely request that you submit to a chemical test, typically a Breathalyzer (not to be confused with the preliminary alcohol screening device, administered often in the field rather than the Breathalyzer at the station)). One of the most common questions we are asked as defense attorneys is “should I blow when arrested for DUI in San Diego?” Although there is no simple “yes” or “no” answer to that question, there is a considerable amount of information that may help you decide for yourself whether or not to blow.
California has what is referred to as an “implied consent” law. What this means, in essence, is that if you drive in California you have given your consent to submit to a chemical test if you are arrested and charged with a DUI. This does not mean, however, that you cannot refuse the test. Instead, it means that there are consequences if you choose to refuse the test.
If you refuse a chemical test (usually a Breathalyzer though you can choose to have a blood test taken instead), for a first refusal you will lose your driving privileges for one year. For second refusal you will lose your driving privileges for two years. For a third refusal within ten years you license will be revoked for three years.
Before you assume that having your license revoked is preferable to a conviction for a DUI, it is important to understand that the results of a chemical test are not required to convict you of a DUI in San Diego. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.08 or above; however, it is also illegal to operate a motor vehicle if you are “under the influence of any alcoholic beverage”. This means that the prosecution could still present enough evidence to convict you of DUI even if you refuse the chemical test. Off course, it is much easier for the prosecution to convict you if they have test results showing that your BAC was over 0.08 at the time of your arrest but it remains possible to convict you without those results.
If you are concerned about the consequences of taking a chemical test versus refusing one, or have already been charged with a DUI in San Diego, consult with an experienced San Diego DUI attorney about the specifics of your case.