The subject of DUI tests is highly controversial, with many lawyers fighting the use of breathalyzer results in court. Although there’s a strong sentiment that implied consent laws violate the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court has held that breathalyzer tests may be exempted from requiring a search warrant if the test is necessary to conduct an arrest.
The Supreme Court has not ruled the same way in regards to blood tests. Since blood tests are considered invasive, a police officer who wants to obtain a blood sample needs a warrant to do so legally. The process of obtaining a search warrant for blood tests has become much more efficient in recent years, and it takes almost no time for police officers to receive warrants electronically.
Increased Use of DUI Blood Tests in South Florida
When you’re arrested for DUI, one of the chemical tests you may be subjected to is a blood test. Roadside blood tests are legal so long as the officers conducting them have valid warrants. Today, the use of roadside blood tests is increasing, as more police officers are learning how to draw blood in a nearby van or police station, rather than taking suspects to a nearby hospital or blood lab.
All an officer has to do to get a search warrant on-the-spot during a DUI stop is contact an on-call judge. Many judges are now on-call and available to grant search warrants for blood tests 24/7. It takes just a few minutes for the officer to receive the warrant, so the process does not stall the DUI investigation. Currently, blood tests are considered the most accurate way to determine a suspect’s BAC. They can also detect other substances which may have contributed to the driver’s dangerous behavior.
Quick Facts About DUI Testing in Florida
Here’s what you should know about sobriety testing in Florida:
- The State of Florida Allows DUI Checkpoints: The U.S. Supreme Court has held that sobriety checkpoints are generally legal and do not violate constitutional rights. As long as they follow specific guidelines and don’t discriminate, sobriety checkpoints are legal.
- It’s Not Against the Law to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests. If you’re stopped under suspicion of DUI, the officer may ask you to take non-chemical tests, like the horizontal gaze nystagmus and walk and turn test, to establish probable cause for arrest at a DUI stop. It’s not against the law to decline participation in these tests, but refusing to could hurt your court case.
- You Must Take a Breathalyzer Test if Requested. Although you do not need to take field sobriety tests, you consented to chemical tests — like breathalyzer, blood, and urine tests — when you applied for your Florida driver’s license. You may face an automatic one-year license suspension if you refuse to take a breath or other chemical test upon request.
- Blood Tests Require a Search Warrant. Blood tests are considered invasive and require a search warrant; however, whether or not the court permits the results of a blood test acquired without a warrant varies on a case by case basis.
Should I Refuse a DUI Breath or Blood Test?
Your refusal to take a breath or blood test to determine your BAC at a DUI traffic stop will likely be used against you in court as proof that you knew you should not have been driving, in addition to bringing penalties such as a one-year license suspension. In many cases, it’s best to follow the law and consent to a DUI breath or blood test — your lawyer may be able to challenge the results after-the-fact.
On the other hand, if a DUI results in a violent car accident that caused severe injuries to another person or death, it may be reasonable to refuse a DUI test until speaking with a West Palm Beach DUI defense lawyer.
Work with a Dedicated DUI Lawyer to Challenge Damaging Evidence
Even if the court dismisses a BAC test refusal, you might still face a serious DUI charge in Florida. DUI convictions may not be expunged, and you will benefit from working with an experienced defense lawyer to help you have your charge dismissed or reduced. Afterward, it may be possible to have the charge itself expunged from your record to protect your quality of life.
With a strong defense lawyer protecting your rights, it may also be possible to avoid a driver’s license suspension. Contact attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to discuss your DUI charge. Our firm has provided competent DUI defense for more than 25 years in Palm Beach County, and our aim is always to achieve the best possible result for our clients. For a free consultation, call 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form.