Field Sobriety Tests: No Warrant
Police officers test for impairment in driving under the influence cases with a number of different tests. These include physical field sobriety tests - testing for horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk a straight line, heel to toe, stand on one leg, touch your nose, finger count, counting backwards, alphabet, 30-second time estimate, and hand pat. Field sobriety tests often involve several of these observational tests. The "suspect" is judged on appearance, following instructions and test performance.
You do not have to take the field sobriety tests, but you leave few options for the officer if he feels you are impaired and not cooperating. If the officer suspects alcohol or drug impairment, he will ask the "suspect" to take a field breath test - which is not the official test, but a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. It is a good indicator where alcohol is involved, and if the driver seems impaired but the PAS comes up zero on alcohol, then the officer will suspect drugs, and will want to administer a blood test.
The official chemical test is the breath or blood test usually given at the station or jail. Failure to take the field PAS test will also leave the officer few options, if he feels you are impaired, other than arrest and taking a blood or breath test at the station.
The field PAS is optional unless you are on probation for DUI or Wet Reckless, or are under 21. After you are arrested, if there is probable cause, then you must submit to a breath or blood test to determine alcohol or drug content in your system or face additional consequences. If you refuse a breath test after arrest, then you must submit to a blood test. Blood tests provide a sample of blood that can be retested later by the defendant (breath tests, on the other hand, do not maintain a sample for retest, but do give printed results and test equipment calibration information).
In cases of refusal to submit to both breath and blood tests, the officer must give you a "refusal admonition" which advises you:
(1) California law requires you to submit to a breath or blood test and failure to do so can be used against you in Court;
(2) Refusal to take a test will result in a loss of license for a year or more;
(3) You do not have the right to consult with an attorney before agreeing to a test; and
(4) If you are unable to complete one type of test, then you must take the other.
If drugs are suspected and there is probable cause, the officer can require you to take a blood test, because drugs do not show up in a breath test. If you refuse to take a test after being admonished, the officer can get a warrant to forcibly take a blood sample - so you suffer greater penalties and suspension for a refusal and your blood will still be taken and analyzed.
Blood Tests: Warrant Required Absent Consent
The "warrant" authorizing a forced blood draw is obtained telephonically in many jurisdictions and allows law enforcement to expedite the warrant process. The officer will contact an on-call judge and make his or her warrant request, indicating that you have been admonished and still refuse to submit to a test, citing probable cause factors that justify the warrant. These requests are routinely granted. Drivers in many jurisdictions, including those who have been pulled over in Oceanside, may be asked to consent to a blood test to measure blood alcohol content or to detect the presence of other substances like marijuana or controlled substances. Failure to consent to a test does not prevent law enforcement from getting the blood sample that can be used against them, but will simply increase potential consequences, including additional custody and license suspension for a refusal.
Call Christoph Law Offices
If you've been arrested for DUI in Oceanside, call 760-659-2149 for a free consultation to discuss your options with the highly experienced father-and-son team of William and Nicholas Christoph, providing exclusively DUI and Criminal Defense and located across from the Vista courthouse for over 35 years.