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Can I lawfully refuse to take a breath test?

By driving on California roads, you have given your implied consent to submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath (or in some cases, urine) when ordered by the police. The only time you are required to submit to a test is if the police have placed you under arrest. If you refuse the test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year if it’s your first offense. You will also be subject to enhanced penalties on top of any sentence if you are convicted of DUI, including an additional 48 hours in the county jail for a first offense.

Don’t confuse a chemical test with a handheld preliminary alcohol screen. This device is subjective and nonscientific like other field sobriety tests, and the results are not admissible in court. Police use this device to help them build up probable cause to arrest you. You can refuse to submit to a preliminary alcohol screen or other field sobriety tests without fear of adverse consequences. The only time you are required to take a preliminary alcohol screen is if you are under 21 or are on probation for a previous DUI conviction.

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