What Happens If I Refuse A Breathalyzer Test In Florida?
Every US state has a law stipulating that a driver assents to be tested for alcohol if requested by police, which is in exchange for driving privileges. The specifics of Florida’s implied consent statute provide that anyone who uses state roads is deemed to have agreed to a blood, breath, or urine test to assess blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Law enforcement can only request testing when a motorist is already under arrest, and there must be reasonable cause to believe the driver was under the influence of alcohol while in actual physical control of the vehicle.
At first glance, the implied consent law appears to favor the driver. If police arrest you, all you have to do is refuse to blow. In doing so, you will prevent officers from gathering key evidence that could lead to a DUI conviction – your BAC. However, Florida’s implied consent law has “teeth” to discourage such a scenario. There are penalties for not upholding your end of the bargain, and a Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney can explain the details. An overview may also be useful.
The Details of Florida’s Implied Consent Law
To get straight to the penalties, you face a one year driver’s license suspension for declining a chemical test. A second-time refusal will result in losing your driving privileges for 18 months, and it is a First Degree Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Plus, you will likely still face DUI charges even when you think you are sidestepping the law. Police can always charge you with drunk driving based upon impairment if you show signs of intoxication. Your BAC is not necessary to prove the case.
Still, it is important to note that the application of the implied consent statute is somewhat narrow. For instance:
- The burden is on law enforcement regarding the circumstances leading up to a request for chemical testing. Police must first have a reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated to pull you over, and then they need probable cause to arrest you. Only then can officers request chemical testing.
- A portable breathalyzer test is NOT covered by the implied consent law. These devices are notoriously inaccurate and cannot be used as evidence. Refusing to blow during a roadside stop is not a violation of the law.
Strategies for Fighting Refusal to Blow Charges
The punishment under Florida’s implied consent law is harsh, but you may be able to take advantage of defenses. Options may include:
- Police did not have a reasonable suspicion or probable cause;
- Officers failed to state implied consent warnings;
- The request was for a blood test, which is only required when a breath or urine test is not possible or the driver caused an accident.
A Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Lawyer Can Explain Implied Consent
To learn more about the application of Florida’s implied consent law, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik in Fort Lauderdale. We can set up a consultation to review your case and determine a strategy for protecting your rights.