The Law on DUI Traffic Stops and Arrests
During a Santa Clarita traffic stop, an officer may request that a driver perform field sobriety
tests (such as the “walking heel to toe” test or “finger to nose” test) to determine if the driver
should be arrested for DUI; evidence obtained from such tests is admissible because the
simple physical procedures required do not fall within the protections of the Fifth Amendment.
Refusal to submit to field sobriety tests tends to show consciousness of guilt, and is
admissible. Prior to making a DUI arrest, an officer may also request that a driver submit to a
preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test that indicates the presence or concentration of
alcohol based on a breath sample, to help determine if there is probable cause to arrest. The
officer must inform the driver that he or she has a right to refuse the PAS test, and that even if
the driver submits to the PAS test, this will not satisfy the driver’s obligation to submit to tests
under the implied consent law if the driver is subsequently arrested. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(h)-
(i). The results of PAS tests can be inadmissible in court if the Law is not followed.
Any person who drives a car in California is deemed to have consented to a test of his or her
bodily fluids if arrested for DUI or other alcohol related offense. Testing must be performed
incidental to a lawful arrest, at the direction of a peace officer with probable cause to believe
the arrestee was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(a)(1).
If the arrest is for driving under the influence of alcohol, the driver may choose either a blood
or breath test. (If the driver is incapable, or states that he or she is incapable, of performing
one of those tests, the remaining test must be performed). If the arrest is for driving under the
influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, the driver may choose either a
blood, breath or urine test and must be advised of the right to choose; however, if a breath
test is chosen, one of the other tests must also be performed. If the driver has been
transported to a medical facility, his or her choice is limited to those tests available at the
facility. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(a)(2)-(3). Only a licensed medical professional or phlebotomist
may draw blood; this limitation does not apply to breath tests. Cal. Veh. Code §23158(a).
Persons with hemophilia or who are taking a anticoagulant at the direction of a physician may
not be ordered to take a blood test. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(b)-(c). If a urine test is administered,
such privacy must be given as will ensure the accuracy of the specimen while at the same time
maintaining the driver’s dignity. Cal. Veh. Code §23158(i).
Prior to the test, the officer must tell the driver that failure to submit or complete the test will
result in a fine, mandatory imprisonment if convicted of DUI, and suspension or revocation of
his or her privilege to operate a motor vehicle. The driver also be told that there is no right to
consult with an attorney before deciding whether to submit to the requested test and which
test to take, or during the administration of the test, and that if the driver’s refusal to submit to
tests will be admissible against him or her in the Santa Clarita Court. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(a)
A driver who submits to tests may have a qualified person or his or her own choosing
administer an additional test; however, the driver’s failure or inability to do so does not
preclude admission of the test administered at the direction of the officer. Full information
concerning the test must be made available to the driver or his or her attorney upon request.
Cal. Veh. Code §23158(b)-(c).
If the driver refuses or fails to complete the requested test, the officer must take the driver’s
license and personally serve him or her with a form on behalf of the Department of Motor
Vehicles giving notice of the suspension or revocation; an endorsement on the form severs as
a temporary 30-day license. The officer must then forward a copy of the form, the confiscated
license and a sworn report of the incident (as required by Vehicle Code § 13380) to the
Department (DMV) within 5 business days. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(e)-(f).
If you have been arrested or charged with any DUI or drunk driving offense
you need to get accurate information so you can make the right decisions.
Call or contact our Santa Clarita Legal Defense Team for immediate answers
to your legal questions toll free at 1-877-281-5010