In California under Vehicle Code Section 23612(a)(1)(A): “a person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical testing of his or her blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood, if lawfully arrested for an offense allegedly committed in violation of section 23152 (California’s DUI Law).”
The important thing to keep in mind is that when you get pulled over by an officer for suspicion of drunk driving, at that very moment in time, the traffic stop is just like any other traffic stop. (i.e. when you get pulled over for speeding) because all the officer needs to be able to conduct a stop is reasonable suspicion that you have violated some law.
There is a misnomer amongst many people that if they refuse to take the preliminary alcohol screening test (or the PAS as it is commonly referred to) they’re drivers license would be automatically suspended for a year. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
California Vehicle Code Section 23612 (a)(5)(h) states: “A preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test that indicates the presence or concentration of alcohol based on a breath sample in order to establish reasonable cause to believe the person was driving a vehicle in violation of section 23152, is a field sobriety test and may be used by an officer as a further investigative tool.”
As the statute makes clear the PAS test is not what would cause your drivers license to potentially be suspended. The breath test mentioned in Vehicle Code Section 23612 (a)(1)(A) refers to a Breathalyzer test administered at the police station and NOT the PAS test that is to give the officers more ammunition to strengthen their case against you.
So next time you find yourself in a situation where the officer is requiring you to take the PAS test you may tell the officer: “I respectfully decline to conduct the PAS test.” And frankly any other test for that matter, because all you’re doing is helping the State build a stronger case against you. Don’t think if you be nice with the officer he will let you go even if he makes such promises to you. In our experience that never happens. The officer is representing the interests of the state and the people and not yours!