You likely already know that if you are driving and your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or above, you can be arrested for driving under the influence. But how do police determine what your BAC is? Generally, intoxication is tested either by using field sobriety tests or a breath test.
Field sobriety tests
There are three standard field sobriety tests police may ask you to perform if they suspect you are driving under the influence. One of the tests is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The second test is the walk-and-turn test. The third test is the one-leg stand test. What all these tests have in common is that they rely on police observation, which could ultimately be subjective. Moreover, even a sober person could find them difficult under pressure. For this reason, you are not required to submit to a field sobriety test in California if police ask. In fact, it is important to keep in mind that if you do submit to a field sobriety test the results can be used against you even if you were not legally drunk.
Breath tests, on the other hand, have consequences if you refuse to submit when asked to perform one. As part of the privilege of driving in California, motorists implicitly consent to perform breath tests when asked to by police. If you are asked to perform a breath test and you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended. So, you will want to carefully consider all your options if asked to perform a breath test.
Ultimately, whether you submit to a field sobriety test or breath test is a matter of choice. It is good, though, to understand what will happen if you do or do not submit. This way you can make choices that are in your best interests.