The Law on DUI Traffic Stops and Arrests
Arrested for DUI in Santa Clarita? Call Matthew at 661-327-7833
In California the police are permitted to stop a motorist for DUI if they observe violations of the law or
have reason to believe the driver is impaired, based on observations of erratic or strange driving.
During a Santa Clarita traffic stop, an officer may request that a driver perform field sobriety tests (such
as the “walking heel to toe” test or “finger to nose” test) to determine if the driver should be arrested for
DUI; evidence obtained from such tests is admissible because the simple physical procedures required
do not fall within the protections of the Fifth Amendment. Refusal to submit to field sobriety tests tends
to show consciousness of guilt, and is admissible. The problem with standardized field sobriety tests is
the issue of false positives. Many officers falsely believe a person is impaired based on observations of
FST performance and the studies done in the area confirm this.
Prior to making a DUI arrest, an officer may also request that a driver submit to a preliminary alcohol
screening (PAS) test that indicates the presence or concentration of alcohol based on a breath sample, to
help determine if there is probable cause to arrest. The officer must inform the driver that he or she has a
right to refuse the PAS test, and that even if the driver submits to the PAS test, this will not satisfy the
driver’s obligation to submit to tests under the implied consent law if the driver is subsequently arrested.
Cal. Veh. Code §23612(h)-(i). The results of PAS tests can be inadmissible in court if the Law is not
Any person who drives a car in California is deemed to have consented to a test of his or her bodily fluids
if arrested for DUI or other alcohol related offense. Testing must be performed incidental to a lawful
arrest, at the direction of a peace officer with probable cause to believe the arrestee was driving under
the influence of alcohol or drugs. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(a)(1). According to the top Santa Clarita DUI
Attorney, not all officers have sufficient training or expertise regarding drunk driving enforcement and
cases can be challenged.
If the arrest is for driving under the influence of alcohol, the driver may choose either a blood or breath
test. (If the driver is incapable, or states that he or she is incapable, of performing one of those tests, the
remaining test must be performed). If the arrest is for driving under the influence of drugs or a
combination of drugs and alcohol, the driver may choose either a blood, breath or urine test and must be
advised of the right to choose; however, if a breath test is chosen, one of the other tests must also be
performed. If the driver has been transported to a medical facility, his or her choice is limited to those
tests available at the facility. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(a)(2)-(3). Only a licensed medical professional or
phlebotomist may draw blood; this limitation does not apply to breath tests. Cal. Veh. Code §23158(a).
Persons with hemophilia or who are taking a anticoagulant at the direction of a physician may not be
ordered to take a blood test. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(b)-(c). If a urine test is administered, such privacy
must be given as will ensure the accuracy of the specimen while at the same time maintaining the driver’s
dignity. Cal. Veh. Code §23158(i).
Prior to the test, the officer must tell the driver that failure to submit or complete the test will result in a
fine, mandatory imprisonment if convicted of DUI, and suspension or revocation of his or her privilege to
operate a motor vehicle. The driver also be told that there is no right to consult with an attorney before
deciding whether to submit to the requested test and which test to take, or during the administration of
the test, and that if the driver’s refusal to submit to tests will be admissible against him or her in the Santa
Clarita Court. Cal. Veh. Code §23612(a)(1),(4).
A driver who submits to tests may have a qualified person or his or her own choosing administer an
additional test; however, the driver’s failure or inability to do so does not preclude admission of the test
administered at the direction of the officer. Full information concerning the test must be made available
to the driver or his or her attorney upon request. Cal. Veh. Code §23158(b)-(c).
If the driver refuses or fails to complete the requested test, the officer must take the driver’s license and
personally serve him or her with a form on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles giving notice of
the suspension or revocation; an endorsement on the form severs as a temporary 30-day license. The
officer must then forward a copy of the form, the confiscated license and a sworn report of the incident
(as required by Vehicle Code § 13380) to the Department (DMV) within 5 business days. Cal. Veh. Code
If you have been arrested or charged with any DUI or drunk driving offense you need
to get accurate information so you can make the right decisions.
Call or contact our Santa Clarita Legal Defense Team for immediate answers to your
legal questions 661-327-7833