As part of a roadside or checkpoint DUI investigation, officers will ask you to perform what is known as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test before you are arrested. The PAS test is performed by an officer at the scene of the incident with a alcohol breath test kit or breathalyzer and are often considered part of an officer’s field sobriety tests. A primary means of early intoxication detection, PAS tests are used prior to more reliable tests, such as urine or blood sampling, often referred to as chemical tests.

A question commonly asked of DUI lawyers is whether a driver should take a PAS test PRIOR to arrest. If you are not a minor, and are not on probation for a previous DUI, submitting to a breath test before arrest is totally voluntary. It can sometimes be in your best interest to refuse a PAS test although a refusal generally results in immediate license revocation until further chemical tests can be performed.

Once you are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence, you are required to submit to a DUI breath test or a DUI blood test. California’s implied consent law, Vehicle Code VC 23612 – Implied Consent For Chemical Testing, makes it a requirement for a driver to consent to a chemical test if they are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver who refuses a chemical test after a drunk driving arrest faces serious penalties under Department of Motor Vehicle regulations.

If the DMV establishes that a driver refused a chemical test, the motorist will receive a lengthy license suspension – one (1) year for a first refusal, two (2) years for a second refusal, three (3) years for a third refusal, and four (4) years for a fourth refusal. And unlike drivers who submit to chemical tests, motorists who refuse will not receive a restricted license to drive to work.

Additionally, there are some drivers who must submit to PAS tests BEFORE arrest. They are drivers who are on probation that includes search and seizure conditions or a driver who is under 21 years old. Any person who is on probation who refuses a test is also considered in violation of the terms and conditions of probation. All other drivers may refuse the PAS test.

Daniel R. Perlman, Esq.

Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman