What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Florida?
Getting pulled over by a police officer for suspicion of DUI can be a very stressful experience. It is always important to know your rights so that in the event of a traffic stop, you are fully equipped to handle the situation.
If you are pulled over and asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, it is important to know that you do have the right to decline. The officer may try to urge you to submit, but Florida law does not require you to do so.
The prosecutor may attempt to argue that you refused to submit to the breathalyzer test because you knew you were impaired. Often referred to as the “consciousness of guilt” argument, this argument may be challenged by your defense attorney. When assessing the strength of your case, it is important to speak with an attorney who is experienced in defending DUI cases in court.
What is “Implied Consent” Under Florida Law?
Florida’s implied consent law states that any person who holds a Florida driver’s license or operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a breath, blood, or urine test if lawfully arrested.
Under Florida’s implied consent law, if you refuse to submit to the test, your license will be suspended for one year. If you have refused to submit to a breathalyzer previously, your license will be suspended for eighteen months and you could be charged with the misdemeanor crime of Refusal to Submit Testing.
Depending on your specific situation, you may be eligible for a “hardship” license after the first 90 days of your license suspension. After the 90-day suspension period, you can apply for a hardship license that will permit you to drive for “business purposes only.” However, if you have refused a breath, blood, or urine test previously, you will not be eligible for a hardship license.
While at first glance a year may seem like a harsh penalty for not submitting to the breathalyzer, the costs and fines associated with a DUI conviction are far greater if the results of the breathalyzer are harmful to the defense of your case. An arrest for a DUI can result in:
- DUI school
- Driver’s license suspension
- Court costs and fines
- Community services hours
- Vehicle immobilization
- Ignition interlock device installation
- Jail / prison time
- Permanent criminal record
Whereas, a refusal may only result in a license suspension from which you may qualify for a hardship.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to contact a knowledgeable attorney to speak with you about the specific facts of your case.