Florida places some of the toughest restrictions for DUI in the country. It is no surprise, then, that nearly half of all Florida drivers who are stopped for DUI refuse to take the standard breathalyzer test. 4 out of every 10 drivers refuse testing because they believe it is better not to provide the officer with any evidence, despite Florida’s implied consent laws. Some drivers simply may not know what their rights are at the time they are pulled over and subjugated to testing, so they refuse all forms of testing, both roadside and BAC. Although there are situations in which refusing a BAC test (a test used to determine a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content) is understandable, there are harsh consequences for doing so.
Implied Consent Laws in Florida
Nearly all jurisdictions abide by implied consent laws. This means exactly what it sounds like — your consent to these tests is implied when you show proof of your driver’s license. By law, at the time you acquire your driver’s license, you are held responsible for accepting the privilege of driving. When you sign for your license, you are giving your consent to submit to chemical or physical testing if you are ever suspected of driving while intoxicated. These tests can include the breathalyzer test, blood test, or urine test.
Refusing to participate in BAC testing at the time you are arrested can unleash an avalanche of consequences that may be even worse than if you had cooperated in the beginning. The current consequences of refusing BAC tests in Florida is the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. This is performed by the Florida DMV, not the court. Hence, the action of refusing a BAC test is not technically considered a crime, as BAC tests are not considered “mandatory.” However, your refusal may be used as evidence against you during your trial.
If your driving privileges were already suspended as a result of refusing these tests, your license suspension is increased to 18 months for all subsequent offenses. At this point, other consequences follow, like jail time and fines. This is when your refusal of a BAC test becomes a misdemeanor charge. At no point does refusing the test guarantee you will not be convicted of DUI. In some instances, it may make the prosecution’s job easier by pointing to your refusal as a strong indication that you were aware that you were driving with a BAC over the legal limit.
Types of BAC Tests
To determine whether a driver was driving under the influence, two types of tests are administered: physical and chemical. A physical test for BAC includes field sobriety testing or a series of mini-tests that challenge your physical movements. Walking in a straight line or touching your nose are common examples.
Chemical tests gauge the chemicals in your breath, blood, and/or urine to determine an actual figure of how much alcohol is in your body. While blood and urine tests are not frequently administered, breathalyzer tests at the police station are the tests of choice. These tests are simple to administer, easy to carry, and provide immediate results; however, they are highly flawed.
Whether or not you refused to take BAC tests in Florida, your license will be suspended if you have been stopped under suspicion of DUI. If you agree to the test, your license will likely be suspended for 6 months. If you refuse, your license is suspended for exactly one year, with only a 10-day window to challenge the suspension. The laws regarding the legitimacy of breathalyzer tests are always fluctuating. You must act fast in these situations and get a knowledgeable DUI attorney on your side. Call The Law Offices of Gabriel & Gabriel for a free legal consultation now at 561-622-5575.