Vehicle Code 23612 VC is the California statute that requires motorists arrested for DUI to submit to a breath or blood test. The law presumes drivers give implied consent to testing. Arrestees who refuse to take chemical (breath or blood) tests face a minimum one-year license suspension.
The language of the code section reads:
23612. (a) (1) (A) A person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical testing of his or her blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood, if lawfully arrested for an offense allegedly committed in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153. If a blood or breath test, or both, are unavailable, then paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) applies.
California police officers must inform DUI arrestees of the following five things:
- They may elect to take a breath or blood test. But if they choose a breath test, they will also have to take a blood test if the officer suspects them of drug intoxication;
- They are not entitled to an attorney before or during the chemical testing;
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test may be used against them in court;
- If they get convicted of DUI, refusing the chemical test will result in fines and mandatory jail; and
- Refusing the chemical test will result in a driver’s license suspension:
Number of prior DUIs in last 10 years
Length of driver’s license revocation for refusing a chemical test
|2 or more||3 years|
In the event no breath- or blood testing equipment is available, arrestees must provide a urine sample. Hemophiliacs and people on blood thinners may also give urine samples.
When DUI arrestees refuse to take a chemical test, the police may get a warrant to force a blood draw. If a DUI suspect is unconscious or deceased, officers may lawfully order a blood draw.
Note that chemical breath tests are different from the preliminary alcohol screener (PAS). PAS is the roadside breath test officers use to help determine whether there is probable cause to arrest a DUI suspect. VC 23612 requires officers to tell DUI suspects both that:
- The PAS is not mandatory; and
- Taking the PAS does not satisfy their obligation to submit to chemical testing if they are arrested.
Also our article on What is implied consent law?