No one wants to be pulled over for suspected drunk driving. Once you are arrested California law is fairly strict as to what you as a driver must comply with. But as with every rule, there are exceptions.
You can refuse to take the chemical test
Normally drivers who are arrested and taken in on suspected drunk driving are required by California law to take the chemical test. While every situation is different, there are clear instances when you can and should refuse to take the chemical test.
You can refuse or may be exempt from the chemical test if:
- You are a hemophiliac
- You take anticoagulant medication for a heart condition
Law enforcement may opt to give you a urine test if they suspect you have been using drugs or both drugs and alcohol or if neither the blood or breath tests are available.
What is the test used for?
The chemical test is used to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of your blood. Before 1999 a urine test was used to determine this content. However since 1999 law enforcement has typically used the more accurate breath and blood tests.
A criminal offense
It is a criminal offense in many states to refuse to take the chemical test and you can be charged separately from the drunk driving charge for refusing. In some states, refusing the test can even mean jail time. However, if the invasive nature of the chemical test could impair your health and well being (such as if you have a blood disorder) it is within your right to refuse it and opt instead for a less invasive (and possibly less accurate) urine test.
What happens if I refuse?
Typically the penalty in California for simply refusing to take tests which measure your blood alcohol content is a one-year license suspension, depending on the charges and your record. Every case is different and your attorney can advise you as to the best course of action.