A driver who is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California must be given a choice of available chemical tests and the officer must advise the driver of the available choices. That said, if a particular test is unavailable, the choice is limited only to available tests.
There are three forms of chemical testing that law enforcement may use to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver. These tests are as follows:
Breath tests are the most commonly administered chemical tests subsequent to alcohol related DUI arrests. Breath tests measure the alcohol content in a person's blood by analyzing the amount of alcohol vapor in the person's breath. Breath tests are generally administered by the arresting officer at the police station.
Blood tests are considered the most accurate of the chemical tests. Blood tests can be used to measure the amount of alcohol content in a person's blood or the presence of other substances such as legal or illegal drugs. Blood tests are generally administered at a hospital or medical clinic by a nurse, doctor, or technician who draws a sample of blood from the driver's arm. The sample is then booked into evidence at the police station where it is held until it can be analyzed by a crime lab. The law enforcement agency holding the blood sample is required to set aside a portion of the blood sample so that the driver's defense counsel can have it analyzed independently by a private toxicology lab. This is known as a "blood split" and is obtained by way of court order.
Urine tests are generally used only in DUI cases that involve drugs rather than alcohol. The only time that a urine test might be used in a DUI case involving alcohol would be where neither a blood test nor a breath test is available. However, that would be a very rare situation.
Distinguishing Roadside Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Tests from Chemical Tests
Often when a driver is stopped for suspicion of driving while under the influence in California, the investigating officer will administer a breath test by way of a small handheld device known as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device prior to placing the driver under arrest. Under California law, this test is considered a Field Sobriety Test and is used to assist the officer in establishing probable cause to make the arrest. The PAS test is not considered a chemical test. In most cases, the driver may choose not to take the PAS test. The exceptions however are for drivers who are under 21 years of age and drivers who are currently on probation for a prior DUI conviction. These drivers must submit to a PAS test when an investigating officer requests that they submit to one.
Reliable and Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been arrested in California for DUI and are facing chemical test refusal allegations, you need a drunk driving defense attorney you can count on. At The Law Offices of Daniel E. Kann, our lawyers have years of experience defending the rights of those facing a wide range of DUI charges and allegations. We give each of our clients the attention they need and deserve to ensure an effective defense in an effort have their charges reduced or dismissed. Contact our firm today to find out more about how we can help.