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Santa Cruz, CA DUI attorney for license suspensionOne of the more common questions folks who are curious about DUIs ask is whether to take a breath or blood test, or whether to refuse testing. The answer is different for different situations, but one answer is easy: do not refuse the “chemical test” of breath or blood unless you do not care about having a driver’s license.

California law states that a driver has agreed to both agree to and submit to a “chemical test” after an arrest for DUI. The phrase “chemical test” can be misleading - it simply refers to a blood or breath test following arrest. They will not be putting chemicals in you, and at least here in Santa Cruz, the blood test is typically done at a hospital. There is a pre-arrest breath test called a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening test) that you can, by law, refuse - and the officer is bound to tell you that. After arrest, though - even an arrest that seems unlawful, off base, or just plain wrong - a refusal to take the “chemical test” will likely lead to a driver’s license suspension of at least one year. That is zero driving and zero sympathy, with your license gone for a year, no matter your need to drive.

Moreover, what the DMV can deem a refusal to take a chemical test is often ludicrous. Silence can be seen as a refusal, even with no physical resistance. If you politely state “Please just note that I object” – the DMV will call that a refusal. Saying “I will take a test if you get a warrant” is refusal as far as the DMV is concerned.

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California DUI defense lawyerIf you were recently arrested for an alleged DUI, you might be concerned about what happens next. You may also be wondering what this might mean when it comes to your license. Rest assured: it is possible to fight back against the DUI charges and your California license suspension. Learn more with help from the following information.

What Happens to Your License?

When an officer arrests an individual under the suspicion of drunk driving, they are required to immediately forward a copy of the driver’s license to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The license of the driver may be immediately confiscated, and the officer may issue a temporary license and an Order of Suspension. Upon receipt of the Order of Suspension, the driver has up to 10 days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV. However, the driver may continue to drive using their temporary license for up to 30 days. 

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By John W. Thornton

dmv issues, DUI arrest, Santa Cruz criminal lawyerYes, almost certainly. We have all had our issues with DMV, these compound in the aftermath of a DUI arrest. While there are some cases that do not result in DMV hassles, they are rare. What follows is but a few examples of what to expect.

First, let me explain the change in attitude at DMV since the "administrative per se laws" went into effect in 1990. It is best summarized by what can be found on the wall in the room in the Capitola DMV Office where DMV hearings are conducted. When I first began doing DMV hearings, there was a big sign that announced your rights as someone facing license discipline: the right to an attorney, to subpoena witnesses, right to testify, etc. After a few years, this notice was pushed aside and, in its place, was placed a notice regarding what charges you can expect for threatening the hearing officer (DMV judge). Now, there is a list of items for which you can be arrested for bringing into the hearing office (firearms, knives, mace, etc.).

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