california bac test laws

Suppose you’re arrested in Santa Barbara, California, for driving under the influence of alcohol. In that case, law enforcement may use chemical testing to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). Chemical tests used to calculate BAC in Santa Barbara evaluate a person’s breath, blood, or urine to establish whether they were driving over the limit of .08 percent BAC.

Understanding these chemical tests and what you may do when pulled over for suspected DUI is essential. If you face DUI charges in Santa Barbara, contact the experienced DUI lawyers at the Aron Law Firm for help. Our DUI lawyers are available to discuss your DUI case in a confidential consultation. Review the information below to learn more about BAC tests in Santa Barbara, California.

Do I Have to Take a BAC Test in Santa Barbara?

California drivers agree to follow the “implied consent” policy when they receive their driver’s license. According to implied consent law, defined under California Vehicle Code § 23612, individuals who have been arrested on suspicion of driving drunk or drugged must submit to a chemical test to determine their BAC or the level of drugs in their system. Additionally, law enforcement must administer the BAC test immediately at the time of the arrest.

According to the implied consent law, you have no right to refuse a BAC test once law enforcement has lawfully arrested you on probable cause for driving under the influence.

Before making the arrest, law enforcement may ask you to take a field sobriety test. They may use the results of this field sobriety test to establish probable cause for DUI. You do have the right to refuse this test.

What If I Refuse to Take a BAC Test?

While you may refuse the initial field sobriety test, doing so may not benefit you; law enforcement may still find probable cause through circumstantial evidence that suggests you have been drinking. Following the arrest, you may then be required to take a BAC test according to the implied consent law described above.

If you refuse to take a BAC test after being arrested, you may face severe consequences that may include fines and a suspension of your driver’s license. Potential penalties are defined under California Vehicle Code § 13353 and 14905.

Further, a judge may still convict you of a DUI after you refused a BAC test, which carries strict penalties, including a potential jail sentence. If you are acquitted, you may still be subject to a license suspension for a specified period for refusing the BAC test following your arrest.

What Types of BAC Tests Are Used in Santa Barbara?

The preliminary field sobriety test is designed to evaluate your balance and coordination and whether you’ve been compromised by alcohol. You are legally entitled to refuse this test. 

The BAC tests used in Santa Barbara include breath, blood, and urine tests.

Blood Test

Using a blood test is the most precise way to establish the concentration of drugs or alcohol in a person’s body. However, a defense attorney may still be able to challenge the findings if it is found that law enforcement did not adequately protect the blood sample or there was an error in the reading.

Breath Test

Though not as precise as a blood test, police officers often use a breath test or a “breathalyzer” device to measure BAC in a sample of exhaled air. However, different factors may affect the results. For example, a person who just rinsed with mouthwash may have a higher BAC reading on a breath test.

The police officer should watch a driver for 20 minutes before administering a breath test to make sure that the reading is precise. However, due to the significant potential for errors involved in administering a breath test, it may be possible to challenge the results.

Urine Test

Urine samples are seldomly used to measure a person’s BAC after a DUI arrest. Urine tests are the least accurate of all the BAC tests and may be used in limited circumstances, such as when the officer doesn’t have the necessary equipment to test either breath or blood. A precise BAC reading from a urine test may only be found if a person first empties their bladder to eliminate any misleading prior factors and provides a second urine sample 20 minutes later. 

Each of these BAC tests generally delivers an accurate measurement, but not always. A seasoned DUI lawyer may be able to help you argue the results of your BAC test after learning the unique circumstances surrounding your case.

May BAC Test Results Be Invalidated?

A Santa Barbara DUI defense lawyer from the Aron Law Firm may be able to invalidate your BAC test results by presenting different arguments that may include:

  • Your sample was contaminated
  • An unqualified person administered the BAC test
  • The chain of custody for your sample was broken
  • Devices used to measure BAC levels were malfunctioning
  • The records for your BAC test were inaccurate due to unfollowed recordkeeping processes

The grounds needed to invalidate a sample are particular to the type of BAC test. If you’re charged with a DUI in Santa Barbara, contact the Aron Law Firm to learn what potential defense strategies may be available to your unique DUI case.

Contact the Aron Law Firm for Help Fighting DUI Charges in Santa Barbara

At the Aron Law Firm, we understand how unreliable BAC tests may be in Santa Barbara and California. A failed BAC test does not mean you are guilty of drunk driving. If you have been arrested for a DUI, you need a skilled DUI defense lawyer on your side to help you achieve the most favorable outcome for your case.

After a DUI arrest in Santa Barbara, contact the Aron Law Firm and speak with a dedicated DUI defense lawyer who may help you protect your best interests. Schedule a confidential consultation today by completing a contact form or calling 805-500-0759.