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Is there a penalty for refusing a DUI test?

If you get pulled over in California because a peace officer suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she may ask you to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content. You may wonder if you have the right to refuse such a test. You may refuse to take a chemical test, but there are often severe consequences of this action. One of the possible outcomes is losing your license for at least a year.

There is important information on DUI arrests and charges on the website of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. According to California law, when you choose to drive in the state, you automatically agree to take a blood, breath, or urine test if an officer suspects you are intoxicated. If you refuse to take (or fail to complete) a chemical test, you may lose your license for one year. This is the penalty for the first offense. If the situation arises again within 10 years and you refuse again, you may lose your license for two years. State law does not give you the right to consult with a lawyer before deciding to complete or refuse a chemical test.

The state has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage DUI. If you are under 21 years old when an officer pulls you over, you must submit to a chemical test or a preliminary alcohol screening. Penalties may exist for any BAC level over 0.01%, which is lower than the 0.08% limit for those over 21. If you refuse initially but change your mind later and agree to a test, you may still lose your license due to the initial refusal.

This general information on chemical tests is intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.