The simple answer to this question is yes, most of the time. However, there can be automatic consequences should you choose to take this route.
There are two types of sobriety tests given to California drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence, whether it be alcohol, drugs, or both. First is the chemical test. If a driver has not been arrested, then he or she can absolutely refuse a chemical test. Second, is the field sobriety test. It is comprised of three parts- the horizontal gaze nystagmus test in which you will be asked to track an object with your eyes, the walk-and-turn in which you will be asked to take nine steps heel to toe, and the one-leg stand in which you will be asked to raise one foot six inches off the ground and count. A driver can refuse to participate in any part of the field sobriety test, but by doing so may give an officer cause to arrest.
If a driver refuses to take a chemical test after he or she has been arrested, then immediate suspension of the driver’s license will take place for at least one year, and the driver may be placed in jail on a 48 hour hold. Even if the driver is later cleared of any DUI charges, these punishments will still stand. If a conviction does take place, refusal of the chemical test will bring much more severe consequences.
A driver who finds himself the subject of arrest without having taken a sobriety test should contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. It is possible to beat a DUI allegation in the state of California with proper representation and guidance.