California’s implied consent law requires motorists in the Golden State to provide a breath or blood sample when they are arrested for driving under the influence. Refusing to do so will lead to penalties including a mandatory driving ban even if the motorist is not subsequently convicted of DUI, but these are consequences that some drivers are willing to accept to deny prosecutors crucial evidence of intoxication.
Law enforcement can overcome a motorist’s refusal to provide a breath or blood sample by obtaining a search warrant, but that takes time and blood alcohol concentrations fall quickly. To overcome this problem, police departments in many parts of the country have implemented what are called no-refusal policies. These policies establish a procedure that police officers can use to obtain search warrants in minutes instead of hours. In most places where these policies are in place, search warrants are obtained by using electronic devices to send information to judges.
The no-refusal policy in California
Obtaining search warrants using electronic devices is permitted under California law. If motorists still refuse to provide a sample after a search warrant has been issued, they may face contempt of court sanctions as well as DUI penalties. Refusal may also be a fruitless exercise because prosecutors in California do not have to prove that a driver’s BAC was over the 0.08% legal limit to secure a drunk driving conviction if there is other compelling evidence of impairment.
Drivers in California who refuse to provide breath or blood samples after being arrested on DUI charges face mandatory penalties under the state’s implied consent law, and their refusal is unlikely to help their cause because police officers can use electronic devices to obtain a warrant to draw their blood in a matter of minutes. If drivers still refuse to provide a sample, they can be held in contempt of court.