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Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Pittsburg, CA?

Located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay, Pittsburg is an industrial city in eastern Contra Costa County. With a population of approximately 65,000, Pittsburg is billed as a city of both “progress and promise.” When Geneva Steel opened in 1906, Pittsburg received its name—after the eastern birthplace of the steel industry, but more simply spelled. The local government of Pittsburg has expanded the parks system and Marina, added a modern civic Center, and worked hard to increase both commerce and employment.

If you are a resident of this modern city, you may have frequented Pineda’s Bar, a sports bar on Cumberland Street. Pineda’s offers Monday night football, Tuesday night karaoke, live bands on Thursday nights, and DJ’s and salsa nights on the weekend. Also on Cumberland Street, is the E.J. Phair Brewing Company, a trendy microbrewery with wood-fired pies, live music, and craft beer on tap. Perhaps you have visited either of these popular locations after a long day at work, or perhaps you have your own favorite place to stop off with friends.

After an enjoyable evening, it can be an anxiety-producing experience to find yourself in the middle of a DUI checkpoint on your way home. Or, perhaps you are on a lesser-traveled road, yet find yourself being pulled over by a police officer. You may be asked to take a portable breathalyzer test, or to perform field sobriety tests. It is important to know that you are not required, under California law, to do either of these. If you are arrested, however, and asked at the station to submit to a chemical test, you are required to do so, or face penalties for refusal.

Breathalyzer Tests

California, like all other states, considers a BAC of 0.08 percent to be legally over the limit, although those under the age of 21 are prohibited from driving with any amount of alcohol in their system, and commercial vehicle operators are considered impaired once their BAC reaches 0.04 percent or higher. Under California’s implied consent laws, you must submit to a breathalyzer or chemical test if you are suspected of driving while under the influence.

Unfortunately, there are many issues associated with breathalyzer tests, and they may actually not be the most accurate manner of determining levels of impairment. A recent study found that the average person’s breath can contain over 100 substances, and that breathalyzers falsely identified 70-80 percent of them as alcohol. Further, there are a number of medical issues which can also affect your breathalyzer results, such as diabetes or acid reflux. People who are fasting, smoking, chewing gum, using breath mints, or who are on a low-carb diet may also see inflated BAC results.

Penalties for Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test

Under the laws of the state of California, if you refuse a breath or blood test, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended by the California DMV for a specific period of time, which is dependent on a number of factors. These factors include your age, and whether you have any prior DUI convictions. Your refusal may also be used in your criminal DUI trial to show you had “consciousness of guilt,” meaning you knew you would test over the legal limit, therefore you refused the test.

If this is your first DUI, you could face 48 extra hours in jail, 6 additional months of mandatory DUI school, and a 1-year license suspension for refusing to submit to a chemical test. For your second DUI, you could face 96 extra hours in jail and a 2-year license revocation. For your third DUI, you could face up to 10 extra days in jail, and a 3-year license revocation.

You can only be forced to submit to a blood test in extreme circumstances, such as when your DUI has caused injury or death to another, you have three or more DUI convictions within the prior 10 years, or you have a prior felony DUI conviction.

If you have been charged with DUI, whether you submitted to a chemical test or not, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Oakland DUI attorney as soon as possible. The outcome of your DUI charges is highly dependent on the strength of your defense, and having a knowledgeable DUI attorney by your side significantly increases your chances of a positive outcome.

Contact the Oakland Law Offices of Nabiel C. Ahmed today to set up a free review of your case. Call us at (510) 907-6600 for a free consultation and to start building a solid defense against these serious charges.

If you are already detained, we are also available for phone consultations and jail interviews. We serve clients all over Contra Costa County, Alameda County, Oakland and the East Bay. Call us as soon as possible.

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