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What happens when you refuse a breath test in California?

If you choose to climb behind the wheel of a vehicle after spending a night out on the town, you run the risk of getting pulled over by a California law enforcement officer. In order to evaluate a driver’s blood alcohol content level, the officer may ask you to submit to a roadside breath test. Breath tests measure the amount of alcohol that is present in a breath sample and converts that amount to a blood alcohol content level. Drivers who are found to have elevated BAC levels that read over the legal limit of 0.08 percent may be arrested and charged with a DUI. These charges come with a number of serious repercussions, including fines, driver’s license suspension and possible jail time.

When you receive your driver’s license, you agree to submit to a urine, blood or breath test if a law officer asks you to do so, according to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. You must perform the test when and where the officer asks and are not permitted to speak with an attorney beforehand. Despite these terms, an officer cannot physically force you to submit a breath sample and you can refuse to participate in the test. However, it is important that you know the consequences of refusing a breath test. Even if you are not driving with a BAC level that is at or above the legal limit, you will be arrested for refusing to submit to a breath test. In addition, your driver’s license will be revoked and suspended immediately for a specific period of time.  

This information is intended for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice.

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