White v. Department of Motor Vehicles – Case Brief Summary (California)

In White v. Department of Motor Vehicles (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 794, the Court unanimously affirmed a trial court's denial of a petition for a writ of mandate seeking to overturn the DMV's suspension of a driver who had, also, refused a chemical test to determine her blood alcohol content.

In that case, the driver originally opted to take a blood test, but then refused to take a breath test when it appeared the blood test could not be properly administered. The court held that the trial court was correct in sustaining the DMV's suspension of the driver's license, stating:

"Here, Ms. White was proceeding on a highway at night and, if under the influence of alcohol as the arresting officer reasonably believed, presented a serious hazard to anyone and anything within range of her vehicle. She rejected a breath test, believing that that was the one to which she should not consent, and opted for a blood test. The officers complied with her request and took her to a police station where that test could be administered. For whatever reason (and certainly not by design of the government or the result of any fault on the part of the officers, the arresting agency, or Ms. White) that test could not be administered. Inability to perform it left one test available: the breath test. That test was again offered to Ms. White, with an admonition of the consequence of a refusal. She again refused it, nevertheless. In doing so, she placed herself within the ambit of the sanction required under the implied consent law: her license was suspended." (White, supra, 196 Cal.App.4th at p. 800.)