A refusal to submit to a chemical test following an arrest for DUI in California may lead to a one to three year suspension by the DMV, depending on the outcome of the DMV hearing, but what is the relevance of a refusal to the Court proceedings?
The first point to note is that it is not a criminal offense to refuse to submit to a chemical test. A jury may not convict a person of DUI based solely on the fact that they refused to submit to a test. However, a jury may consider the fact of the refusal as evidence of guilt if they determine that a defendant willfully refused a test in order to avoid giving evidence of impairment. There must, however, be other corroborating evidence, such as poor performance of field sobriety tests before convicting a defendant of DUI.
If a defendant is convicted of DUI and the jury finds that he willfully refused to submit to a test, the refusal acts as a penalty enhancement and typically leads to at least 48 hours county jail and a nine month alcohol education class instead of the typical three month class.
Refusal cases often lead to a jury trial as prosecutors tend to offer greater penalties in plea negotiations and defendants who refuse to submit to a test often do so in order to try and avoid responsibility and are more likely to consider jury trial as an option. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Orange County or Los Angeles County, please contact Gold and Witham for a free consultation.