Is Refusing a Breathalyzer an Admission of Guilt?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is driving or being in control of a vehicle while impaired by a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more. Unfortunately, when you get stopped by the police, you do not have the right to consult with an attorney before accepting or refusing a breathalyzer test.

Suppose you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test or blood test after the police have arrested you in California. In that case, you will face penalties for your refusal because of California’s implied consent law. However, refusing a breathalyzer test is not an admission of guilt in the eyes of the law and may not be admitted at trial as evidence of a DUI unless you are under age 21 or already on DUI probation.


If you have been arrested for a DUI, then you need a skilled DUI defense attorney who can challenge your chemical test results, explain the consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test, and provide answers to your questions. According to Law Ninja, a law firm, criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience to challenge the breathalyzer test after carefully reviewing the evidence in your case and building the strongest legal strategy for you.

Signs Of Intoxicated Driving

Police need probable cause to pull someone over for driving under the influence. In fact, your BAC could be under the legal limit of 0.08%, and you could still be charged with a DUI if your driving was impaired, regardless of your actual BAC. Alcohol makes it hard to concentrate and control your movements. Just like an officer would pull someone over if they ran a red light, an officer could pull you over if they notice any of the following signs of impairment:

  • Zigzagging on the road
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Tailgating
  • Overcompensating for drunkenness by driving very slowly
  • Hitting the brakes often
  • Driving the minimum speed limit on the highway
  • Hitting or almost hitting the curb or another vehicle
  • Driving with the headlights off, driving the wrong way down a road, stopping at a green light, or signaling to turn in the wrong direction can tip off law enforcement that a driver is intoxicated

To be charged with DUI, you can either be pulled over because you exhibited any of these signs of intoxication while behind the wheel, or you can be stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. You cannot be stopped and have your car searched for other reasons.

In fact, you must agree to have your car searched. If you are questioning the legality of your stop, then you should speak to a criminal defense attorney about your rights under the US Constitution. If you were unlawfully stopped, then your DUI charges could be dismissed.

What are Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Devices?

In general, law enforcement cannot require drivers to take a PAS without probable cause for drunk driving. California is one of the states where drivers are free to refuse law enforcement’s request to take a breathalyzer test pre-arrest, and officers are required to inform drivers of their right to refuse a breathalyzer test.

According to the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, officers need probable cause to arrest a person, conduct a search, or get a warrant. Suppose a police officer notices signs of intoxicated driving, like violating traffic laws. In that case, they can use a field sobriety test or preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device, also known as a breathalyzer, to determine if there’s probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI.

How can a criminal defense attorney help me?

A DUI conviction can affect your education, career, and family. You may lose any professional licenses you hold, be unable to take out student loans for yourself on behalf of your child, may reduce or lose your custody rights, or be unable to adopt a child.

A DUI will appear in background searches for potential employers when you apply to jobs in the future. A criminal record could also affect your ability to find housing. With so many of your freedoms on the line, you need to speak with an experienced DUI attorney about your DUI charges.

Your lawyer can explain your legal options, devise the best defense strategy for your case, and challenge the reading of a breathalyzer test. They can conduct an investigation in parallel with the investigation against you by the police or the prosecutor.

Your attorney can challenge the admissibility of harmful evidence or find a way to reduce its impact on your case, represent you during police interrogations, and negotiate with the prosecutor. If you have been arrested for a DUI and refused to take a breathalyzer test, then you should speak to a criminal defense attorney right away.

Read More: Long-Term Effects of a Car Accident

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