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Implied Consent in California

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California is a state where the principle of implied consent plays a significant role in criminal law, especially in DUI cases. This concept suggests that by driving on public roads, you automatically agree to specific tests, such as blood alcohol concentration tests.

If lawfully arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. Understanding the subtleties of implied consent is crucial as it directly affects your legal rights and responsibilities when operating a vehicle in the state.

In this article, you will discover the intricacies of California’s implied consent law, its implications, and how it can impact a DUI case. If you’re facing a DUI charge and need clarification about your rights and obligations, the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can assist you in navigating the legal system and protecting your rights. Contact our office today for a complimentary consultation.

Consent is given when an individual willingly agrees to take action or allows something to be done to them. In many instances, consent is explicitly stated, requiring a clear agreement. This consent is known as explicit consent. However, consent can also be implied without the need for verbal agreement. Implied consent is inferred from someone’s actions.

In California, drivers implicitly grant consent for BAC testing each time they operate a vehicle. Regardless of possessing a California driver’s license, all drivers on California roads are presumed to have given their “implied consent” to undergo chemical testing when arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence. This concept of implied consent empowers the state to enforce criminal and administrative penalties on drivers who refuse testing when lawfully requested.

Knowing the implications of implied consent is essential, especially when dealing with criminal charges or restraining orders. Sometimes, people may not realize that their actions imply consent, leading to confusion and legal consequences. Understanding your rights and obligations under California’s implied consent law is crucial to avoid any unwanted legal complications.

In California law, the scope of implied consent extends beyond just DUI cases and can be applied in several legal scenarios. Here are some common examples of situations in which implied consent is applicable according to California state laws:

Medical Treatment

Implied consent in medical treatment arises when a patient has not explicitly consented. Still, the doctor reasonably believes that the patient would have done so if they had been fully informed. For instance, in emergencies, doctors can perform life-saving procedures without getting consent from the patient, assuming that the patient would have agreed if conscious.

Implied consent, when relevant, can act as a shield against negligence claims by the doctor. This doctrine allows the doctor to argue that they acted in line with the patient’s wishes, even if they were not explicitly stated. Doing so helps establish that the doctor’s actions were reasonable and in the patient’s best interests.

Search and Seizure

Implied consent also empowers police to stop drivers suspected of breaking the law. According to this principle, when drivers operate their vehicles on public roads, they implicitly grant consent for a stop and search. It is crucial to note that such searches do not violate drivers’ rights; instead, they align with law enforcement officers’ authority to conduct a vehicle search if they have reasonable grounds to do so.


Additionally, as a user of public roads in California, drivers implicitly consent to undergo a DUI chemical test, according to the California Vehicle Code. This test can encompass analyzing blood, breath, or urine samples to ascertain if the individual had alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle.

Case Study

Let’s examine the case of Espinoza v. Shiomoto, a 2016 case that serves as a prime example of how implied consent applies in DUI scenarios. In this particular instance, Bernice Espinoza was pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. The officers requested her cooperation in undergoing a chemical test to determine her blood alcohol concentration. However, Espinoza refused and requested that the officers issue her a citation for a cellular phone violation.

Undeterred, the officers then asked her to submit to a blood test, which she also refused. Consequently, Espinoza’s driving privileges were suspended for one year due to her noncompliance with the blood test.

This suspension was based on the implied consent law, which stipulates that all drivers implicitly agree to undergo chemical testing if lawfully arrested for suspicion of DUI. Furthermore, this consent extends to all types of testing that the law enforcement officer deems necessary.

Penalties and Criminal Charges

In most cases, when drivers refuse to take a chemical test, they’ll still be hit with DUI charges. Even though they won’t be specifically charged with driving with a BAC over 0.08 because of the unknown BAC, they can still be charged with a DUI according to the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC, along with the refusal allegation.

Also, if you refuse chemical testing, you’ll end up with mandatory jail time on top of any other DUI penalties. Even if you take the officer’s breathalyzer test in the field but then refuse the chemical testing, you can still get charged with DUI refusal. To top it off, the DMV will suspend your license for a whole year, and you will not be able to get a restricted license during that time.

Finally, it is essential to note that if your DUI case proceeds to trial, your decision to decline a blood or breath test can be used as evidence of guilt against you.

We at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney understand how these laws affect your case and tailor our strategies to each case, considering the unique details and complexities.

If you want to avoid the negative consequences associated with misunderstandings and misinterpretations of implied consent laws, contact us to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.

Our lawyers have experience in a wide range of legal areas, including criminal law, family law, and immigration law. Whatever the charge, we can help. Whether it’s a dangerous blood alcohol level, a sexual offense, or an assault, we’re here to assist you.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality of service and strive to ensure their voices are heard. We are here to help.

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