Implied Consent Laws in California

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What is an implied consent law?

“Implied Consent” is a type of legal consent which is not formally expressed by a person, but rather inferred from their actions and the facts which surround the circumstances. For example, if a person does not object to an accusation, sometimes it can be concluded that the person is agreeing with the accusation.
Implied consent usually appears in the context of drunk driving or DUI laws. Most states have some sort of law stating that any person who drives an automobile impliedly consents to chemical testing after being arrested for driving under the influence.

What is California’s implied consent law?

In California, by driving an automobile it is implied that you have given consent to a blood alcohol content (BAC) or breath test upon being arrested for a DUI. The implied consent only applies to chemical testing required after the DUI arrest. This means that a person can refuse to take a breathalyzer test before being arrested.  

Are there consequences for refusing to submit to chemical tests after a DUI arrest in California?

Yes, consequences for refusing to submit to a chemical test after an arrest are severe in the state of California. The penalties for refusal (known as “refusal enhancement penalties”) will be levied on top of standard DUI penalties. Refusal enhancement penalties may include:
You should note that failing to submit to a test can result in charges for both the DUI as well as the refusal. Failing to complete a blood alcohol content test can also result in charges (for example, purposely not blowing hard enough into the breathalyzer).  

Does “Implied Consent” apply to other areas of law?

To avoid confusion, you should be aware that implied consent is a general legal concept and has many other applications besides DUI arrests. For example, implied consent is also used in the following situations:
These applications of the implied consent will vary from state to state. Check with a lawyer if you feel that any of these situations applies to you.

Do I need a California Lawyer for an implied consent issue?

Disputes involving implied consent can be complicated. By their nature, they require an analysis of the person’s actions to determine whether they actually consented. If you have refused a blood test after a DUI arrest in California, you may need to contact a lawyer for assistance with any charges that may be brought against you. A competent DUI lawyer can explain your course of action under California laws. 


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Last Modified: 07-21-2010 12:13 PM PDT

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